Desert-Storm.com is proud to host a copy of the Gulf War Illness Awareness packet presented below. It is not meant to be a comprehensive exploration of GWI and its surrounding issues. Thanks go to Tonia Goertz for providing this compilation. If you wish to download this presentation in a more printer friendly format please right-click on the following link and choose Save As: gwi_packet.doc
Gulf War Illness:
A look at the Veterans and the Issues
Surrounding American and Allied Veterans
of The Gulf War.
The intent of this packet is to make you aware of the problems faced By Persian Gulf Veterans. It is NOT meant to be comprehensive, rather a more personal look at the victims of this War. American citizens, and Veterans who have proudly served this country and are now suffering due to the apathy of the public, the lack of media attention similar to the POW and Agent Orange issues faced by our predecessors, and inadequate and inappropriate medical care.
The goal of this packet is to make you aware of the reality of the life of our Veterans since the war, Included are the publicly available statistics, and the number to call for current statistics, excerpts of documents on major contributing factors, and Personal stories from the Veterans themselves.
Thank you for your consideration of this issue, and for more information please contact:
The stories contained herein are the stories written by the Veterans themselves, or their spouses. One is a Life magazine article about a group of Veterans and the issues faced by their children.
This packet also contains a few excerpts from some of the many documents available for your reading pleasure on things like the safety of Depleted Uranium, the anthrax vaccine, and the agents that the US government knew the Iraqi’s possessed because WE sold them.
I would like to publicly thank each person that has contributed to this effort through the sharing of their story, the passing of the word that I was working on this, or simply for sending up prayers that this has some impact or makes some kind of difference. I would also like to thank each of you, those reading this, for your time and interest in the lives of our Veterans.
For more complete information on this issue, here are a few of the sites available for answers to any questions you might have:
American Gulf War Veterans Association www.gulfwarvets.com/
National Gulf War Resource Center: www.ngwrc.org/
Desert Storm.Com: http://www.desert-storm.com/
New Hampshire Gulf War Syndrome Association: www.nhgws.org/index.htm
Lots of documents http://Odssaemail@example.com/
The Reigle Report: What veterans have been exposed to and a look at the U.S. government’s involvement: www.gulfwarvets.com/arison/banking.htm
A few personal looks at this issue:
Tom Colosimo: www.tomcolosimo.com/
Candy Lovett: www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/1683/enter.html
The Mandatory Anthrax Vaccine and why it is a problem for All Gulf War Veterans, and All Veterans who have served since that time:
Major Sonny Bates: www.majorbates.com/
Anthrax Vaccine Home Page: www.anthraxvaccine.org/
Also, you can search Squalene, Gulf War, Gulf War Illnesses, Illnesses in Gulf war Veterans, Birth defects in Gulf War Veterans Children, or any variation of these topics and come up with thousands of links.
To begin, I will outline the issues, outline only due to the extensive nature of the information available on each of these on line. I will also state that I am not a doctor or any form of medical personnel, I am not a researcher, and I am not attempting to do anything other than make you aware of the FACTS that the media and government seem to chose to discount. My story is included herein and when you read it and the others, I hope that they will in some way motivate you to start asking some serious questions of our elected officials. We are but a few of those suffering.
A. Chemical weapons like nerve agents, mustard gas, etc.
B. Depleted Uranium- from the tank armor to the spent rounds, to the destroyed Iraqi equipment.
C. Experimental vaccines and drugs:
1. Anthrax vaccine
2. Botulism toxin vaccine
3. Pyridostigmine Bromide (anti nerve agent pills)
D. Biological weapons and viral agents engineered by man
E. Environmental Exposures:
1. Diesel fuel
2. Diesel fumes
4. Chemical agent resistant coating (CARC)Paint
F. Indigenous diseases
II. Medical Care
A. Denied claims
1. Inability to prove service connection due to missing records.
2. Inability to understand claims process due to lack of support from service organizations.
3. Denial of appeals due to missing deadlines due to not understanding the forms.
4. Denial of claims due to improperly submitted evidence.
5. Claims denied on the basis of being “not well grounded”
6. Claims approved on illnesses not requested for, or approved with no compensation.
B. Medical Treatment
1. Lack of care all together
2. Lack of appropriate care for illnesses presented
3. Lack of appropriate diagnostic tests being run
4. Denial or omission of positive test results
5. Treatment for psychological problems, unnecessarily, in the presence of heart, liver, or kidney problems.
6. Improper or limited diagnoses.
7. Being told by VA doctors that they, and I quote, “WE DO NOT TREAT GULF WAR RELATED ILLNESSES, BUT WE CAN REFER YOU TO PSYCHOLOGY.”
8. Refusal by both civilian and VA doctors to recommend diagnostic tests- VA based on the statement above, civilian due to the fact that they say go to the VA.
C. Family Issues:
1. Birth defects in our children
2. Learning disabilities in our children
3. Infection of our spouses and children with indigenous diseases and genetically engineered things.
4. Exposure of our families to our chronic illness, financial hardship, and in some cases even homelessness.
5. Inability to find causes if illnesses and issues in our children/ lack of medical care for them as well.
I am sure that I have omitted some of the things we face on a daily basis, but this is a fairly reasonable overview. The illnesses and problems faced are unique to each person. It seems as though no two people present exactly the same way. Each family faces different challenges and concerns, and the bottom line is that many are dying or already dead.
We are VETERANS, and the families of Veterans, we do not want your pity, or sorrow at our loss. We want your action.
accurate up to date information contact:
The Special Assistant
Four Skyline Place, Suite 901
5113 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041
Our e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call: (800) 497-6261
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as of March 1, 2001
- 696,661 U.S. troops served in the Gulf War between August 2, 1990 and July 31, 1991 -- these are considered "Gulf War Conflict" veterans by the VA;
- Of the 696,628, 504,047 are separated from service and eligible for benefits through the VA;
- As of December 1999, more than 263,000 sought medical care at the VA;
- Of the 504,047 eligible veterans, 185,780 (36%) filed claims against the VA for service-related medical disabilities;
- Of the 171,878 VA claims actually processed, 149,094 (80%) were approved in part (note -- most claims are made up of multiple issues, if any one issue is granted, VA considers it approved);
- Of the 504,047 eligible for VA benefits, 149,094 (29%) are now considered disabled by the VA eleven since the start of the Gulf War; and
- Another 13,902 claims against the VA still pending.
- More than 9,600 Gulf War veterans have died.
- Conflict veterans are 51% more likely to have their claims denied than "theater" veterans (those who served in the Gulf since August 1, 1991)
- Veterans who served at Khamisiyah and Al Jubayl are 37% more likely to have one or more service connected conditions than era veterans. Conflict veterans are 8% more likely than era veterans to have one or more service connected conditions. Theater veterans – those who served in the region since August 1, 1991 – are 16% less likely than era veterans to have service connected conditions.
According to the Department of Defense, by 1999, the military revealed
- As many as 100,000 U.S. troops were exposed to repeated low-levels of chemical warfare agents, including sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gases;
- More than 250,000 received the investigational new drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB pills) the Pentagon "cannot rule out" as linked to Gulf War illnesses;
- 8,000 received the investigational new botulinum toxoid (Bot Tox) vaccine;
- 150,000 received the hotly debated anthrax vaccine;
- 436,000 entered into or lived for months within areas contaminated by more than 315 tons of depleted uranium radioactive toxic waste possibly laced with trace amounts of highly radioactive Plutonium and Neptunium, almost all without any awareness, training, protective equipment, or medical evaluations; and
- Hundreds of thousands lived outdoors for months near more than 700 burning oil well fires belching fumes and particulate matter without any protective equipment.
- Each of these exposures took place while troops were either engaged in combat, serving in a war zone, or stationed in the volatile region for a number of months.
My brother was a happy guy with out a mean thing to say bout anyone.
He always smiled & joked with all that he met.
He was the oldest of 5 children born in our family.
He always got along with everyone.
He decided to join the Army & was in the Paratrooper & was in Special Forces.
When the fights began for what was later called Desert Storm & Desert Shield,
He was called to go over there. He went willingly to help our Government.
He was one of the first sent out & one of the last to return.
The brother that came back was not the same one that had left.
For on the outside he still did all the things that he did before but his heart wasn’t there.
Only his family could see the changes that had taken place.
Though there wasn’t anything that we could do to lessen the pain or the horror that he witnessed. He was one of the many that were given clean up duty.
Such a ridiculous name for such a ghastly duty.
They were sent to check out those that had fallen to be sure whether or not they were dead.
They also collected the dead bodies of both our soldier’s & the fallen enemy. Many were in parts that had to be collected. Many of the enemy bodies were booby trapped so care had to be taken. Not a job that anyone would want to have to do.
When he came back, he was like many other soldiers that had been there.
Loud noised would put him on alert, he couldn’t stay inside for to long for he was used to being outside, he felt better being outside.
He was still fighting those that he was sent to fight; the war was not over for him.
Many soldiers never recover from this, nightmares continue to plague them, & they never cease to have them. They come in the daylight hours & when they least expect them.
My brother was one of the lucky few that was better able to cope with the things that he had to do. The sadness remained even though he went on with getting his life together.
His life was cut short only a few years after returning to us.
He died on May 16, 1998.
Though the Lord called for him, he remains in our hearts & on our minds with every passing day.
© Annette Thornburgh
My name is Sheila Allen. My husband, Robert Allen, of just 8 months
came down with Primary CNS Lymphoma. This was in the brain only. He was diagnosed on April 22, 1999. After extensive treatment, he still went home be with the Lord on Feb. 19, 2001.
He served in Gulf war, and was in the service from 1977-1997. He was
on the U.S.S. O'Brien over there floating around in the waters right off the gulf. Fortunately he did get a full service disability status. If you need more info, please feel free to write me, and ask. I would be happy to share with you. Also, I came down with thyroid disease in March of 99. Hashimotos disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid condition.
I read what they said on the fibromyalgia/ cfs. It pretty well describes me I have been to doctor after doctor. Yesterday I was dx with fibromyalgia imaging that.
I was laid off last year in February. The year before I was taking off more work due to sickness than I ever have. When I was laid off it was a God sin because they were going to rid me because of my attendance.
Below is the letter I mailed to Congress last October and to several of our Hierarchy.
I have not returned to work. Sometimes I can’t even move or I am just paralyzed to all the symptoms I have. My memory has been altered. I am being punished because I go beyond appellate dates. Well you know something I find it hard to concentrate and I actually forget things.
Thank you for using Congress.org to send your important message to your elected officials. Congress.org is a public service Web site operated by Capitol Advantage whose goal is to empower citizens to communicate and share their views with the nation's leaders.
Message sent to the following recipients:
Chief of Staff Card
Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security Clarke
Message text follows:
October 13, 2001
[recipient address was inserted here]
To whom it may concern
I know my letter is long but please at least read it and see if you can do something. Here is websites for desert storm http://www.ngwrc.org and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gulf-chat/message/9596 also feel free to browse it. Bottom line I need help now, not a year from now.
My life has been taken away
from me because of this unknown disease. It has affected
my family, my career path and everything I have worked for.
I served my country I was not drafted. I volunteered and for almost 14 years you had nothing but dedication. Now I need support and I feel that everyone is out to get me. Pretty soon I will have no income yet I find it hard to seek employment as I live in a nightmare. Am I angry, suicidal, homicidal, emotional, upset with the system, anxious and/or depressed?
I am having problems and they have been worsening since my time spent in the gulf. I don't know whom to turn to because I'm having a problem focusing on the stuff in front of me. I am ok some days with moderate pain and able to function. Other times I am debilitated.
As I write this letter, I am hardly able to swallow. My tongue has some kind of virus that VA doctors can't identify. My eyes water, I'm sensitive to light, my joints are aching, I'm bitter, angry, depressed, I gasp for breath, I'm fatigued and I'm just at my wits end. I lay at
night, wondering, if I have given my family something.
I feel afflicted with a disease that has left me sick. I have suffered enough and reports show many have died. I am destitute and have depleted my savings in an unsuccessful search for an explanation for my ailment. I am a military veteran of the Gulf War. The only thing I am asking is for nothing more than the assistance I have earned. Refusal on my immediate assistance leads me to question the integrity of the nation I served.
I have cysts in my arms, and legs and also soars forming, headaches, chronic fatigue, upper respiratory problems and I feel like I am losing control sometimes because for the last 9 to 10 years I have been led to believe I was imagining all this. After Desert Storm, I went into the work force in Dec 94 and left Feb 2001, thank GOD I got a severance package
because Lord knows what I would be doing now. The last year I worked, I took off so much work because of symptoms.
I am being told I have to wait for a decision. The proof is in the pudding, I am living it. Instead of putting the burden of proof on us soldiers why can't the government open their eyes and prove we did not get a disease over there. Why must we have it documented while we were over there in medical records? As a matter of fact, I don't care if it was
anthrax, biological warfare or etc. Also, just because it might have not affected someone else in my unit or any other unit for that matter, they could have had a certain antibody for this anthrax and/or biochemical crap. It's not going to do me any good to pinpoint my location in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. I just want it fixed so I can go on living a normal
Am I angry, suicidal, homicidal, emotional, upset with the system, anxious and/or depressed?
I have recently gone to VFW, and I will try and get justice. I am concerned however that the law states a veteran only has a year from the decision of a disability to include the family for extra pay. I was awarded 30 per cent yet sometimes the things I endure are debilitating. I have recently found out that I should have been drawing just a little more
income for my spouse and son to help financially, however VFW told me the DAV didn't put in for this and I didn't know anything about it. Now that I know the law they say I cannot get back pay for something that was in fact owed to me, yet I didn't know about. I should have been receiving pay since 93 my award didn't start until 96. I am confused on how the system works because during my claim process, the DAV and the Appellate board knew I was married. My wife spoke in my behalf. Go figure. The law should be bent because DAV had my power of attorney. I should not be denied this.
The pain I experience is excruciating at times, I go into meditation as I was taught to endure pain via military, but I can only take so much at times so I have to rely on other resources when needed.
Sometimes I burst into tears for nothing at all because I feel worthless. I was so great and rising fast yet now I feel like my whole world has fallen. I was an account executive for a major firm, I served as an inspector for the 102nd Arcom, I was a maintenance sergeant and etc. I wiped a lot of noses in and out of service but I am having difficulty wiping my own.
What is it that we as veterans suppose to do with this disease of the unknown? VA can't pay you compensation because it takes months to be approved at the appellate board if it is approved at all, and social security takes months if it is not denied. What are we to do in the meantime? Why isn't there something set up for the obvious?
I don't go to the VA every time I have a headache, nor do I when all my other ailments occur yet I must provide proof via a doctor these things are happening. So here I have severe apnea, which is one of the signs and it took me to go to a private doctor to finally discover this. I have chronic fatigue, upper respiratory problems, in which my chest hurts and the doc wants to maybe take a piece of tissue from my lung, I have rashes, cysts, soars that inflame and become unbearable to touch, my back aches yet I try and exercise and do normal things, and I always try to stay positive. For if all of this is in my mind please help me remove it so I can live and press on.
I wished you people were in our shoes; no I don't because you wouldn't be in the same position, and you would get something done, because you have power. Well why can't you use your power for us.
May 14, 2002
Paul F. Yelton Jr.
To whom it may concern,
Chances are if this letter is being displayed, a great friend of mine deemed it necessary to do so. I joined the service in 1987,a graduate from high school I wanted to make my parents proud. I joined the service so I could continue my education in the engineering field. Much to my dismay, this furthering of my education never happened. All throughout my history in The United States Army, I wore the uniform proudly, and served my country honorably. When tensions in the Middle East grew in the early nineties, apprehension of a conflict was in the air. Though I never served in the theater of Iraq during the war, my unit was deployed to Turkey. Before deployment our unit received multiple vaccinations, these we were told were necessary as to fight off any infections, or ailments resulting in going to foreign lands. Though not a glorious mission, ours was to help the refuges, also known as the Kurds. Once our mission was finished we returned to Germany, from there I was out processed, as I was involuntary extended under the circumstances surrounding the war. Many of times during my stay in turkey, many off us would awake to choking on the sprays, the Turkish soldiers used for the control of insects. Upon my returning to civilian life, the years passed by without a problem. I had often heard of other soldiers getting sick from the injections and shells that were used. None of the problems that plagued my brethren and sisters affected me so I did not worry about it. A decade after the cease fire, in the fall of 2000, the county where I live, decided to spray for the west Nile virus. Two months later, I became deathly ill. While driving a tanker trailer, I had a seizure. From that point in my life my world crumbled at my feet. Upon the diagnoses of seizure disorder, my life was to be changed forever.
No longer could I continue my career. Being a Professional Driver, having a seizure disorder ruined my career. The career that I had loved for so many years was gone in a flash. Having two young children and a wife at home my heart was crushed. I knew I had to start another career, after a few months I was returned to the work force. Working for a home improvement store now became my profession. Though not the first choice for a truck driver, being in retail started to give me a sense of well being, with a chance to move up into management in a short period of time. After two years one career destroyed, and a year to rule out any genetic link, my world once again has crumbled at my feet. Now facing financial ruin, and a potential loss of my home, I am disappointed in the people of the United States.
The Va. has diagnosed me with
seizure disorder, possible ms, and cardiac murmur, all of which I self diagnose
as Gulf War illness. I say Gulf War Illness because I spent a year ruling out
any genetic link, and have found that far to many other gulf era vets have very
similar problems. After two years of research myself, I believe my problems
originated from the multiple vaccinations. Many Government experts believe this
is not the case, I believe it is. The toll this has taken on me is very great,
I struggle each day to try and remember yesterday, or the day before that, or
the day before that. I watch, as my young son looks at me and says, dad, you didn’t
remember we were going to do this, or that. The emotional
struggle from day to day, as to whether or not I will remember the past, as so I won’t make the same mistakes in the future. Being in retail as a customer asks a question, I can’t remember so I ask what was asked, the reaction of anger towards me. As things in this life are always changing, so has this illness changed me. I used to be a quiet, simple man, now I have become a man driven, driven by the desire for my Government to answer my questions and tell me why and how come. A man at 34 yrs old who has made his peace with his maker, yet a wife a two children that do not understand his anger.
I served my country proud, I would serve my country
again, and I am discouraged as to why my country will not answer my call. I
have written our leaders numerous times, only to have my pleas, fall on deaf
ears. To have other Veteran groups look down upon you, simply because our
soldiers came home with yellow ribbons, and a parade. The battle for this group
of veterans is not over, the mission a failure. The media tells all of no
casualties, there are over one hundred thousand, and we are still falling daily
on the average we lose two gulf era veterans. Folks, there are fifty thousand
names on the wall, one hundred thousand gulf era veterans do not have a wall in
which to have their names placed, only tombstones. The gulf veterans are not
only who is affected by the war, our children are sacrificing for their country
to, though they never signed their name. Many of our veterans’ children are
born with birth defects. Not only our children, but also the children in Iraq
are also suffering. Because of our nations agenda to apply sanctions, many
children are suffering there as well. These diseases slowly wear at ones body,
and eventually take ones mind. I believe we all have an obligation to make a
stand. The very freedoms we all fought
for, in any war are threatened. New laws are being passed everyday, slowly
taking away the very rights that our constitution was founded on. Freedom of
speech, freedom of statement, our kids can no longer pray in our schools,
how can we expect our God to answer our calls. I ask each of you who may read
this to take a step back. Take a good long look, and ask yourself, what has happened,
why have I allowed this to happen. All wars were lost, as the very principals
we fought for have become tarnished. America has become so relaxed that we have
allowed domestic enemies to infiltrate into our governing bodies. Take a look
and ask, is this
what I sacrificed so much for? Is this what I am going to allow to continue? I pray for our service men and women today, as they to will return, to have America turn her back on them. As George Washington once said, "The willingness of our young people to serve in any war, no matter how justified, is how they perceive the way those that went before them were treated. Will we allow America to continue to lose her honor? Anyone with any questions of this Veteran is welcome to contact me to validate the words I have written. Thank you and may your god bless you.
Paul F. Yelton Jr.
A once proud Veteran
A very disappointed citizen
To Whom It
My name is Freda H. Babinski and I am the wife of Lyle S. Babinski who had served with the 155th Engineer Co. National Guard Unit in Waverly, Tennessee 37185. Rank E-4, His unit was activated and sent to Saudi Arabia to serve in Operation Desert Shield/Storm from Jan. 1991 to June 1991.
At the time his unit left, my husband was in excellent health and state of mind. When me and Mr. Rogers (a young man who has lived with us since we were married in 1986) picked him up from the Nashville Airport, we both immediately smelled a very unusual odor on him, his uniform and all his belongings. It was not from lack of showering, this odor was very different. This odor had a chemical smell and the reason I know this is because I also served in the U.S. Army and I know that smell. You never, NEVER forget that odor.
After he was at home for about a month, I started to notice changes in him.
The diarrhea would last for two or three days. It would stop for a week or so and then it would start up again. I see him get mad and upset over absolutely nothing and for no reason. His concentration span is very short. As he tries to do the normal things here at home like he use to, he'll suddenly quit in severe anger or from exhaustion or both.
My husband can’t breathe through his nose and his nasal passages are swelled. He coughs and sneezes allot. With-in a month after he returned, I noticed that his nose got very red and dry and he complained of it hurting all the time. We tried all kinds of creams and ointments but nothing would work. VA has also given him nose sprays, which helped for a couple days and then stopped. The redness on his nose is now across his forehead and cheeks. Also blood actually runs out of his nose several times a month. I thought he developed high blood pressure but I check it quite often and it's normal most of the time. I use to be a Registered Nurses Assistant for twenty+ yrs. so I do know what I'm doing. There are times that his blood pressure will rise suddenly and then in minutes go back to normal. During these times (which are several times a week now) his skin turns gray in color. Before this, the gray color was only happening at night when he slept. He can no longer sleep in the bed. He has to sleep in his chair or on the floor (when he does sleep and it’s only for a few hrs). This has been going on in the past yr. He yells in his sleep and he moans like he’s in severe pain while sleeping. Every night I have to keep checking him to see if he’s breathing because his skin has that gray look as if he’s dead. Also in the last few yrs. he has been getting lost coming home from work. He said that he will suddenly find himself on the interstate wondering where he is suppose to be going and then he will remember. So I had to get him a cell phone so when this happens, hopefully he would know to call me and I could help him. This past yr. he’s come home disoriented many times. He acts like he’s not sure if he’s suppose to be here or not. He gets confused so easily. This will last about an hour or so. The headaches are more severe now than they were before and they are every day now. VA in Nashville advised me to request guardianship over him which I’ve already done yet have not gotten an answer from them as of yet. My husband hurts so bad in his joints and muscles and he is so exhausted all the time. He can only work part time now but I feel that even that is too hard on him.
The people he works with are wonderful because they watch him for me and they too have noticed some drastic changes in him. They see his how he hurts and what he goes through. He’s been missing allot of work lately because he feels and hurts so bad. The doctors there are seeing how sick he is now and are asking why he looks so bad.
I have a civilian Neurologist check him constantly where he works and she found nerve damage in his lower spine and severe Carpal Tunnel in both wrists. After she did her exams she wrote a statement that he is whole body 70% disabled and that’s not counting his Gulf War symptoms. He is slowly losing the use of both hands and VA in Nashville TN. doesn’t seem to think that’s a problem. He also has a pocket of fluid in his brain that wasn’t there before and VA once again, doesn’t see that as a problem.
I'm by far not a physician but I do know that his symptoms and his pains are very real. Since June 1991 when he returned from the Gulf War his symptoms have increased at least 75%. It is not in his imagination nor is it in mine. He has also received both letters stating that his Unit WAS in the area of Khamisiyah and the letters were dated 7-24-97 and 12-05-00.
My husband and I do very little socializing but the friends we do have are the people he works with. He works at a hospital and if the Higher Ups knew how sick he is, I am sure he would lose his job. They already got rid of the other GWV’s. You see, I'm 100% disabled now and we barely make it from paycheck to paycheck. He is our main source of income. To tell you the truth, I don't know how he makes it day after day. His age serves no purpose in this matter. Before Desert Storm, my husband could work any younger man into the ground, I've seen him do it and you know why? He always took extra good care of himself by exercising and eating right also he does not drink nor does he smoke. This man very seldom took an aspirin.
As for myself, it has increased all of my illnesses plus I now have other illnesses that I didn’t expect. I have epilepsy, which contain two or three seizures daily, degenerative bone disease, two discs missing in my spine. I’m always having pinched nerves in my spine and lower neck (usually about two times a month). These were illnesses I already had but now I suffer from severe migraines that have been diagnosed. When I get these migraines, I also get ruptured blood vessels in one eye (the side the pain is on). I also have severe low sugar and a hiatal hernia. My arthritis is so severe now that I have a worse time sitting, standing or walking for any distance. My husband and I recently found out that we both have Hep. C.
I also had 3 dogs and 2 cats that are ill. We already lost one cat to a kidney infection that our Veterinarian seemed very puzzled about because the cat wasn’t that old and was very healthy. Both of the larger dogs have strange knots all over their bodies, different sizes and shapes. One dog (who recently died this past Easter am.) has had four surgeries removing these knots but they kept returning. They all have kidney infections at least once a month. They all have rectal bleeding at times. They all have severe arthritis and all but one are sensitive to loud noises and that’s because she is completely deaf. They hide all the time as if they’re scared. The one dog that recently died was completely blind. The smaller dog is on medication for her lack of bladder control. All of them are very sensitive on the top of their heads like they’re in severe pain. They all get diarrhea periodically and run fevers for no reason. Our pets didn’t act or hurt like this before my husband went to the Gulf but they do now and it began after his return.
Washington DC knows about our situation and our pets and have had other reports of pets being ill with the same symptoms. It has been admitted to me by Jim Reeves who is now retired from OSAGWI that most Veterans will not report this problem much for two reasons and they are:
1) People will not believe them.
2) They haven’t connected it to the ill Veteran yet. If another family member can get this illness, then why not the pets? Which should also tell you that this illness is contagious.
You see, I’ve only given you the short version of what all has happened to us. our lives and our future since my husbands return from the Gulf. By the way, I nearly forgot, we’ve already had to file Bankruptcy plus my husband is also a Vietnam Veteran who now has the nightmares again and how much more can this Country expect him to tolerate?
I certify that everything I have said here is the truth to the best of my knowledge. I AM AN AMERICAN VETERAN MYSELF THEREFORE I DO NOT LIE FOR ANYONE!!
May 14, 2002
Thank- You for your time....
Feel free to contact me ANYTIME if you want verification of my story and I will gladly go into more detail.
Freda H. Babinski
(The State that sent the most volunteers to the Gulf)
Hello this is Smokey from the AGWVA B/B w/ the personal stories you
were requesting. I have no problem w/ anyone asking questions about this story. You may feel free to reveal my web page or e-mail address to any who would scrutinize this story or your work.
For me, the story begins w/ being attached to the 101st Air Assault Div. 1st BDE 2/327 inf. Right after the invasion of Kuwait the division went into action. Preparing for deployment. Part of this prep was being vaccinated for overseas duty. I received numerous shots that day just like in basic and before deployment to Panama. This time 2 new ones were added to the mix, Anthrax & Botulism Toxin. Around the end of Aug 91 we were in country and as best I can remember all was going well. Soon after arrival we were issued the PB tabs w/ instruction from our squad leader that he would hold formation after every meal and supervise everyone taking his or her PBs as ordered. I made it through the conflict and came home. I can't recall when I started noticing something wrong. Others noticed my change before me. Shortly after my return, I was reassigned from my inf. unit to the NCO academy as an instructor. This was due to my illness and not being able to adjust. Kind of a friendly light duty gesture from my CO at the time. I finished out my 4 yr tour there. But not without incident. My health was deteriorating. I was removed from field exercises twice by ambulance when I went to the medic w/ my complaints. They were having a hard time locating a pulse and my blood pressure was nowhere to be found until I got to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and hooked up to a heart machine. I knew something wasn't right but what had started out as flu or cold had become more serious. I left the service in '93 after only 4yrs in. (I went in thinking of it of as a career) Prior to my discharge during one of the out processing meetings. I was asked if I wanted to file a claim w/ the VA. Being advised they would take care of any follow on care I required. I agreed and filed my claim. In it I listed the following as my symptoms. 1stomach condition, 2chronic fatigue syndrome w/ dizziness & memory loss, 3lung condition, 4nervous condition, 5back pain, 6residuals of a fractured finger. I turned in this paper work and was discharged about a month later in Dec. I arrived home and found work w/ the USDA Forest Service in April that yr. I still wasn't doing good but needed to work to support my family. It was tough back then. I was having trouble keeping anything down. Other times I would have a mouth so watery that you either bent over and let it run out like a faucet, or swallowed and saw it all at once later. I would get cramps and muscular spasms, watery eyes and headaches from hell. It wouldn't happen everyday but about 4 times a week. I was waiting to hear back from the VA papers I had put in. All I ever got for that whole year from the VA was " We are having trouble locating your service records". Then eventually in mid 94 they made a decision. Out of all the listed complaints all but one was considered "not well grounded" Because the Army would not release my records to the VA. The one approved, the finger I broke while carrying a dragon missile for a friend. The rating was 0% for the entire muscle skeletal system. I took this news very hard. So hard I was becoming violent and near homicidal toward them. They had just called me a liar basically. I never appealed their decision. I didn't know how. All I knew was the people, who were supposed to help, left me to die. So with no med insurance from my gov't job (Because I was only a seasonal firefighter.) and no help from the VA. I suffered through the next 4 yrs. constantly contemplating suicide or at least leaving my family to spare them the pain of having to tend to my needs. (I spent a lot of nights w/ a trashcan next to my bed to vomit in every night.) Things were so tight I had to choose between going to a doctor or letting the family go hungry. It wasn't till late 94 after that denial that I first heard of Gulf War Syndrome.
In 98 I had met a few other local vets. All of whom were Vietnam
Veterans. We talked and I explained my situation. They sincerely tried
to help but the VA was not budging saying I missed the appeal and had
no new evidence. But like last time all was not lost. They gave me a "not well grounded" on all the items I had claimed but granted me 10% for something I didn't claim and never mentioned out of embarrassment. That was Irritable Bowel Syndrome. About this time I had caught wind of the Persian Gulf Registry exam. I signed up and things started happening for me. They were beginning to recognize my illness for what it was. Multi symptomatic. The exam took only 3 months. I had appt's almost daily. I ended up w/ some diagnosis that made sense. They include PTSD, which was the nervous condition I applied for originally (I didn't know what to call it then). Also a motor tremor, severe hypothyroid problem, Acid reflux disease w/ Barrettes Esophagus. An Inguinal hernia, a bulging C-5 & 6 vertebrae in my back. It wasn't till after that exam and on my 3rd claim for the same conditions over again that I received a Service Connection, but only for the PTSD. Everything else they deny.
I'm starting to loose my focus, and need a break. I hope this helps
explain to others what is going on. If I can ever be of any assistance, please let me know. I don't think I said all I wanted too, but only what I can remember at this time. I know I'm not the only one suffering, and as sick as it sounds it's a relief for me to know I'm not alone in this struggle.
Sgt. Smith Robert D.
A Co.2/327 infantry
1st BDE. 101st Abn. Div.
Hope I'm not too late:
My husband joined the US army in February 1970. He served in Vietnam 1971-1972 with B 159th Aviation and 362nd Aviation Co. attached to the 229th attached to the 1st Cav. and the Persian Gulf August-September '90-101st Airborne Division. He was on profile for a back disability while sent over to Saudi and was evac'd back about a month later because of it. He never should have been deployed in the first place. He recalls MOPP 4's many times during this one month of service in Saudi. They slept in tents on the concrete airfield in sleeping bags. He remembers that he had dehydrated and the company chaplain had difficulty in arousing him. Back state side he was in charge of HHC and handled baggage of other returning soldiers after the war. He retired honorably in November 1991.
Presumed service connected disabilities at time of discharge: Cervical spine strain, migraine headaches, lumbar strain, and dysthimia.
The lumbar disks were herniated with osteophytes, neural foraminal narrowing and documented in 1989 SMR CT report in the claim file, but they only gave him 10% for a "strain” He was on profile for Sciatica, and bilateral Radiculapathy (nerve involvement from the disks) the whole last year of his service but he didn't have a problem on the day of his VA C & P, so they gave him "strain" 10%. They never ordered MRI. Treated at that VA facility for 9 years. 2000 the new VAMC finally ordered an MRI after he fell down the basement stairs backwards onto the concrete due to a side effect of a VA psychotropic medication, which caused him to lose the loss of use of his legs. Has had chronic radiculopathy (nerve pain) in both thighs but they say they can see no reason for it. New VAMC only recognize one lumbar disk and never investigates the c-spine. Completes EMG on the wrong side (as it was ordered) and reports negative findings. When brought to their attention they repeat it this time on the PROPER SIDE-they do a "limited" study and again report it as normal. EMG testers were inexperienced interns and inflicted undue pain. EMG was repeated via civilian Dr. (A board certified neurologist) and positive findings were found. 2002 comp still says its just a strain and raises him to 40%. (Claim for increase et al filed 1999-3 years earlier).
C-spine. Injured in in-service auto accident, whiplash injury. 1991 C-spine exam shows loss of normal cervical lordosis et al, but no problem found with the disks. Got a copy of the 1991 VA x-ray film. 2002 got a civilian MRI. MRI found two herniated disks causing MARKED flattening of the spinal cord-compared to 1991 X-ray-NO CHANGE. 2002 Comp maintains 10% cervical strain.
Migraines: Have increased in frequency and severity. 2002 raised to 40%-should be 60%.
Dysthimia: Is purportedly a "temporary" condition per VA. Have outside MD and an expert PhD witness for SSA and VA state that this is NOT dysthimia, but is PTSD-related to combat in Vietnam. But the VAMC doctor's say it is "anxiety-related" disorder and NOT PTSD. Have a signed statement from the CO of the unit served in Vietnam. Filed a complaint with OIG for failure to diagnose & treat PTSD. Records documenting the disorder are in the VAMC medical record, but the Director fails to inform OIG during the investigation and OIG conveniently overlooks it. Case closed no merit. (OIG had the information from us). VAMC wants to use psychotropic drugs and "anger management classes". Receiving treatment via civilian PhD for PTSD was approved for SS disability for PTSD. Cannot take medication due to fact of liver disease (related to all the drugs used for his back? or a hereditary disorder (according to VAMC). No decision rendered on liver disease.
Dependents: VA knew of impending marriage 6 months prior to and within six months thereafter that it took place per medical records. Took place 6/97. VA has a copy of the marriage license and birth certificate of stepchild. Documentation is in the claim file. Application for Dependency status filed 8/00 (through no request from the VA-I might add). He is still single according to the RO.
2002 Fired The American Legion. They had the case for over 10 years and did not do a very good job.
Well that's his story in a nutshell. Case pending appeal. "Pamela Hassett" <email@example.com>
My name is Michelle
Harvey, my husband is Brian and he is the vet. First, some of the
paperwork nightmares. The DoD has him listed that he was in General
Swartzcoff's unit (I don't know how to spell his name- sorry), which means,
they think he had hot meals running water and nice hot showers! What a
joke. My husband was transferred several times while he was over
there. Since coming back his memory is shot and he can't even remember
what unit he served in. So, the gov't thinks he was in the headquarters
and that does not help with our claim. We have been fighting since about
1993-1994 to get benefits for him. The VA hospital has treated him
very poorly. When he presented for his registry and C&P exam he
complained of the following (taken from the original list he brought with
him): blurred vision, balance problems, dizziness, headaches every day
migraines at least 3-4 times a week, nausea, stomach problems, diarrhea (Up to
6+ times a day), sharp pains in both legs and arms, numbness and tingling both
hands and fingers with the right being greater than the left, very fatigued and
no energy, poor memory, difficulty controlling temper, difficulty performing
tasks and concentrating, easily frustrated, no appetite, occasional skin
rashes, swollen lymph nodes, fevers, and complete personality change- very
isolated and antisocial when before he didn't know a stranger.
What did the VA hospital do for him... an x-ray of his skull- not a MRI just an
x-ray. They tried him on Midrin, Cafergot, Verapamil, Nortriptyline,
Trilisate, Ibuprofen, Citrucil, Naproxen, Claritin, and Fioricet etc etc etc.
They only seemed to want to try drugs, no wonder there are so many drug
addicted veterans- they don't want to treat the underlying causes.
Needless to say, nothing worked. We refused to return to the VA hospital
for substandard care after that. We went into the private sector with our
own insurance and at first met just as much resistance. We were treated
as if my husband just wanted to scam money from the gov't. Like he was a
worthless piece of crap.
This is just a portion of what one neurologist in Indiana said about my husband: his name was Charles Rehn.
" Although Brian Harvey would like to blame all of his symptoms on the Gulf War, I think most of his symptoms have a psychosomatic origin." "He probably does have migraine without aura, but I would be hesitant to blame it on the Gulf War."
This jerk went on to state how Brian became defensive! Of course, he had been treated terrible already and it was hard to get him to go back to a doctor and when he did, see how he was treated once again. There was a large time period in which he didn't return to doctors which also hurt our claim- the VA assumed since he didn't go to the doctor he hadn't been sick. The truth was no one believed in my husband and treated him like a nut case. He refused to return to anyone who didn't believe or validate that he might in fact have actual problems with his health.
He has had tons of blood work done, his stool has been check for C-diff, and every known parasite etc, he has had two EMG's, and when he started having chest pains, he got an EKG, treadmill, halter monitor and I think ECHO done. When someone finally listened to me and ordered a MRI shock shock they found a brain tumor. He participated in a Gulf War research project at the Cincinnati, VA hospital (briefly) They found cardiac arrhythmia's (multiple PVC's bigeminy and trigeminy) He quit the study when he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and the VA here denied our claim because he was no longer an undiagnosed illness. We have sent so many medical records to the VA for his claim and had so many family member write how he has changed it's unreal. We've appealed and appealed, we've written congressmen and senators. We've testified in some hearing about his illnesses. He finally has received 30% for diarrhea that he has had every day since the Gulf. He no longer has normal functioning bowels. On bad days when he has numerous bouts he has to use a bucket in the back of his work truck to "bag" one because he can't make it to a bathroom. We've lost our modesty by now so excuse my harsh way of describing our situations! LOL. He got 10% service connection for his brain tumor and removal. He hasn't received anything for nerve damage in his extremities, fatigue or the residuals from his surgery. His scar goes from his forehead all the way around and down the side of his head and stops at the end of his earlobe, it is painful at times and numb on the top of his head, he has permanent vision damage in his right eye and memory problems. Since it wasn't caught early enough he has to be followed closely for the rest of his life. He has to get MRI's a lot and he's had tons of CT scans. He is on Dilantin forever now, due to leg pains- he was on it to prevent seizures and a good side effect was that it helped with the daily sharp pains he got in his legs. He still has bad days where he has a little limp but the horrible pains that would cause him to not be able to sleep have gotten better. Since surgery his anger and terrible changes in his personality have gotten better. He no longer throws dressers over and breaks things like he did. He no longer would forget our daughter was in the bathtub, which he did do when she was about 2 years old! He also left her in our home when he went to a gas station. I was asleep in the basement at the time because I worked night shift. He has gotten most of his judgment back after surgery, which is wonderful. I used to sit up and listen to him breathe before. I was so sure some nights that he wasn't going to take that next breath. I used to listen to his heart and the way it skipped beats and had such funky rhythms. I would hold him and rub his head when all he could do was lay there and rock from the pain. I was there when he had diarrhea so bad there was blood in it, or when he would throw up blood. I was there when he was such a nasty person that no one wanted to be around him. I was there when no one cared about veterans and I'm still here. I am taking care of my sick husband not the gov’t. We now get monthly compensation but not near enough for what he goes through. The VA asks what % of your life the illnesses affect you. What a silly question. All the vets are affected 100%- I just grieve over the men and women they could have been. And for all the sick people out there that don't have support or anyone caring for them.
I know this is getting long! We have a daughter, too. She was born August 1995. I have been trying to get her on the registry for children and spouses since 1999. I have called the beginning of 99, 12/17/99, 10/18/00, 3/5/01, 12/7/01 and probably more times that I haven't documented. As of May 02 no word yet! As for her health, the pregnancy was uneventful but she has so many allergies. She gets rashes for no reason. She is allergic to chocolate, meat- all meat even fish, broth anything, Penicillin, amoxil, zithromax, ceclor, augmentin and she used to be lactose intolerant. When she has too many milk products she has problems but we limit her. Her allergies were so bad that her school had a mold problem that affected her so badly that we are now home schooling her. Not what I had planned but when she was on clarinex, singular and they wanted her on allergy shots in order to breathe I couldn't let her stay there. We have to watch everything she eats, if she has stuffing that has turkey broth in it she will have such terrible stomach cramps and pains and diarrhea it is awful to watch. She is 6 and calls it "splatter poop". So, my child can't have chocolate chip cookies, a hot dog or any normal food. We have to get her "fake" corn dogs and chicken, all soy protein. It's expensive shopping for her.
As for me, I've always been extremely healthy until being around Brian. I never believed that this illness could be passed to me. I understood about my daughter but not me. I still have a hard time believing it, but, since 1994, I am no longer able to eat any meat products either. Same response at my daughter and Brian can't have red meat. I always ate meat, loved it. It never made me ill. I loved my BBQ ribs and steak. Now, only the slightest juice from meat dripped on my food leaves me sick for days. I began getting ovarian cysts that when some ruptured the first time I went the ER thinking my appendix burst. I get weird rashes and still have female problems. We desperately want another child but we're scared of what will be wrong with it. We are still thinking about it and weighing the risks. My OBGYN seems to think IF we can get pregnant it will be okay. He is leery but I would be followed up very closely. It is strange how much more consideration Brian gets now that he actually has something to validate some of his symptoms. Since he had a brain tumor and it was removed and the VA service connected him for it, it carries some weight. Plus, they know better than to say something to me. I've given many a person quite the earful for saying anything about GW vets.
I have a folder at home with 18 responses from various senators and congressmen, which isn't even close to the number of letters I've sent out. Some were worthless and my DAV rep even said don't send to them. He said all it does is tie up the claim and they carry no weight. They just pull the claim send a stupid form letter to the members and delay the process.
As if that weren't enough the last slap in the face is that the veterans were promised a medal called the AAM? Anyway, the story told to my husband was Clinton just took office and he needed to sign or do something in order for the vets to receive the AAM and he still hasn't received anything. Shock shock.
I probably have much much more but I can't think of anything right now- I'm fried. Too much information. Right now I am sitting here with 5 large yellow envelopes on the computer bursting at the seams with papers about Brian and his claims and medical records. I will send this to some other vets. I posted about Brian's tumor on the message board years ago and I wish I would've kept the emails I received. I have had so many email me about sons/ husbands etc dying from brain tumors it's so sad. If you need more information please email me I would be happy to talk to whomever or write whatever I need to in order to get us heard. The GW vets need a voice. Now is a good time to speak up while everyone wants to be patriotic. Thanks for trying. Michelle
Sorry it took me some time. I hope this helps. Please read it and correct it if it needs it.
This is my story of what I have gone through for the past ten years. I was born 1964 In Mexico; I was raised here in Detroit, Michigan. I joined the military in July 01 1986, went to Chicago for basic training from there I was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia for my four years of active duty on board with Vaw-126 who was a part of the USS John F Kennedy task force where we did our tours in the Mediterranean, Before we left the states I was administered my shots for over seas duty. Here is where I believe that I was affected with an illness. To this day a doctor have not been able to explain why I am sick today. When I joined I was totally healthy when I was discharge I did not start getting the symptoms until six months after. I did not relate my illness with other Vets due to the fact that my illness started with flu like symptoms, Except I was getting the flu every three to four months, this went on for about five to six years. I went to every doctor and not one could explain why. It was not until 97 that I was told by doctors that I should go to the VA and have them investigate my illness.
Now the VA was a nightmare. They had assigned me a primary care doctor who I have been seeing for the past ten years dealing with my illness. Now the VA is not to fond of putting blame on my illness due to my time in the military. They blame it more to my ancestry or something other then the fact that my illness was caused by the military. I have not worked for two years now and my illness does not let up on me. Now I have been diagnosed with FMS/CFS, IBS, Sinusitis, Migraines, and memory loss, loss of thought processes. Those are just some that I have been dealing with on a daily basis. I am one of those vets that was never over in the gulf. What I do have memory is the shots I received that had made me sick for three days straight, every time I received them, which was every six months, I never asked what the shot were due to the fact that I figured they knew what I was given. Well this is my story and I pray each day that they will have the answers for my illnesses.
Beckie Webb, age 44
USAR, retired with service-connected disability March 1992
Public Affairs Specialist
341st Medical Group
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Webb, age 48
Married veteran in May 1993
2002, I read a New York Times news
article on the slow and agonizing recovery of the six Anthrax victims who –– so
far –– have survived their infections. The Anthrax survivors described their
earliest recollection of symptoms: intravenous tubes sticking out from every
direction, severe gastrointestinal disorders, lymph nodes swollen the size of
cherry tomatoes. And I thought how that description sounded just like me, a
Gulf War veteran, between the end of 1990 and the beginning of 1996.
I read further into the
description of their recovery since leaving the hospital: debilitating fatigue,
shortness of breath, memory loss, symptoms that puzzle their doctors, an
accelerated aging process, and the medical community’s shock that none have
recovered more fully. If I changed the word “Anthrax” to the words “Gulf War
Illness”, the article would be describing me, my sick husband, and thousands of
other ailing veterans and their families that I have met since 1993 when Gulf
War Illness first became a publicized issue.
I showed the Anthrax
article to my husband. His response: “Yes, but at least they got treatment. They had doctors who kept them in the hospital with tubes
running out every direction. Not like you, with doctors telling you that your
insurance would not cover additional days of intravenous antibiotic therapy.
Saying they would have to find some inject-able form of antibiotic or some pill
to finish up your antibiotics even though you were still running a temperature.
At least the medical community believed
they were sick.”
Now I reflect on how much
time and money I have invested since 1990 in my recovery from Gulf War Illness,
the mystery illness that most refuse to believe is caused by neither age nor
stress. And I look toward the future, and how much more time and money I will have to spend in light of the fact that now I am older and will have to factor age into my elusive quest for some
measure of recovery.
I describe the GWI based upon my own educated experience, because GWI is to each victim according to that victim’s immune system and general health upon contracting GWI. GWI is an umbrella of diseases with at least seven sub-categories, including
1.) Auto-immune Diseases and Infectious Diseases
2.) Varieties of systemic fungus
3.) Varieties of parasites
4.) Chronic bacterial and microbial infections
5.) Chronic viruses.
Two other categories that do not apply to me are
6.) Exposure to oil-well fires, warfare chemicals and depleted uranium, and
agent pills prescribed to soldiers who deployed to the Gulf.
The biggest obstacle to
leading a normal life is the uncertainty of health on a daily basis. At one
point in time, I could count on having four good days followed by three bedfast
days. One of my coworkers described my illness as “living to go to work”. These
days, 12 years after the fact, I rarely have good days. And when I do, I use
them for subsistence: cooking, cleaning, laundry. I no longer have a job.
The single constant is
debilitating fatigue, the symptom that irritates me more than all others put
together because most people think it is the same as “tired”. Debilitating
fatigue means fatigue beyond consciousness and functionality. I have passed out
from fatigue. I have lost all memory of what occurred when I “blacked out” from
fatigue. My legs have buckled out from under me. I stopped climbing stairs
because I consistently collapsed upon reaching the top. I have crumbled in the
parking lot when I rose from the seated position behind the wheel to standing
position just outside the car. Now I use handicap tags wherever I park, in
hopes someone will help me rather than rob me when they stumble upon my
The second factor is
actually two factors wrapped into one. I usually have cluster headaches
beginning at 4 a.m. throughout the winter. I never wake that early for any
functional reason. Either the tears streaming down the right side of my face or
the vomiting that accompanies the headaches roust me from what precious little
sleep I get.
The third factor is the
chronic hormonal imbalance that deprives me of sleep and has cost me my
laughter. The mental factor costs me my ability to work on my career and to
develop relationships. I lost my social skills because I am embarrassed about
losing my ability to finish sentences or losing my speech altogether. I turn
down fellowship opportunities because I’m unable to plan anything. I don’t know
whether that particular day will be a bedfast one or a medicated one that
precludes driving or maintaining balance.
My greatest fear is that
the uninformed public and the medical community will continue to believe that
Gulf War Illness afflicts only those who physically
served in the Gulf during a six month period in 1990-91. They’ve never heard
about the hundreds of thousands of stateside soldiers and sailors who were
disabled by military vaccines, experimental vaccines, multiple vaccines given
too closely together, tainted vaccines and expired vaccines. The public and
medical community doesn’t understand how hundreds of thousands of veterans’
spouses and children have been afflicted because the public has been duped into
believing the illness was related solely to chemical weapons and Persian Gulf
The reason it is so
important to aggressively educate the public and the medical community is that
our President has vowed to return ground troops to that toxic wasteland in the
Middle East to renew a fight against Saddam Hussein. Once again, soldiers and
Marines will be wading through the debris of decades of biological weapons blowing freely across the desert
sand. The chemicals and oil fires are -- no doubt -- no longer a factor in this
new war, and long forgotten by all but those who served in the original Gulf
The greatest fear for all
should be that the infections and diseases us veterans and spouses have
survived once, shall surely repeat themselves when this new wave of veterans
come back from that barren wasteland with night sweats, chills, strange dreams,
self-doubts, diminished physical strength, and a renewed wave of diagnoses
called “somaticism”, “depression”, “malaise”, “gold-bricking”, or the best one
of all “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”.
Strangely enough, I have
the same GWI as my comrades who served in the Gulf 12 years ago. But I never
left my home state of Texas during my tour of active duty in support of
Operation Desert Storm, and during my Reserve duty for cleaning equipment
returning from the Gulf after the cease-fire. But I managed to infect at least
one other civilian, who has never met another soldier or sailor.
I believe that Gulf War
Illness has grown into an epidemic within the borders of the United States. The
only factor containing its growth is the death rate among the sick. The
government does not factor in fatal car wrecks due to veterans passing out
behind the wheel in its death tally. The government also does not factor in
accidental overdoses or dangerous drug interactions because doctors failed to
perform adequate blood work-ups to determine medical reasons for veterans’ ill
health. And the government never looks beyond the deployment roster to
determine the more realistic numbers of victims felled by Gulf War Illness.
My grim forecast is that
Gulf War Illness and its next generation of sickness coming back from the
Middle East wastelands is the epidemic that will become pandemic: Saddam
Hussein has produced weapons of mass destruction with unfettered determination
during the past few years. He used the invisible, but deadly, method of warfare
in several instances throughout the last 20 years of the 20th century.
I seriously doubt he’ll hesitate to use them again early in this 21st
The public needs to be fully alert and ever watchful, not comfortable and hypnotized as it was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
from the gulf, and went about my service time waiting for my ETS date. While
waiting my health in service started the down hill cycle it is still on today.
I was a hard core grunt, and earned my CIB, and was thinking about ranger
school, but I started failing my runs on the pt test, and feeling heart pains,
the docs at the base did not do too much, so I knew my health was not right, so
I attempted to get out of service and pursue my health issues outside of the
army, (This was in the FRG). I got out and my wife and I were expecting our
first born, and she started having problems, so we went to the doctors, and
they admitted her right away, needless to say we lost our first born due to a
rare chromosome defect, and the German doctors were livid with anger, we tried
to get answers from the base, but too no avail.
We moved on in our lives, and I was working there, I started to get tired real easy, and I started developing a canker in between my big toes, I could hardly walk, I then started getting blisters on my hands, big honkin ones. I went to the doc, and we got the teaspoon deep cankers takin care of. I then got worse with my shoulder pain, and hip pain, and constant headaches, cognitive problems, and energy.
We moved to the states, I worked on a ranch, and was having problems there as well, I came down with pneumonia, and have come down with it every year since 96
I was at the docs all the time, I told them to change my mailing address to the docs, cause I was there so much.
We moved to attend Bible school, and I struggled with memory, and cognitive skills that were no problem before, now came forth in a big way. I could not remember anything I studied. I flunked all the tests. So I had to stop my pursuit of the bachelors’ degree, and settled for the associate.
Being that I had to leave school, I had to work, I worked for a school, as a worker
of the grounds, and I could not hack the 75-degree heat, and had to be assigned other duties. I missed a lot of work from going to the doc, with headaches, I stopped sweating and passed out, I could not handle physical labor any longer.
I then went to work at a day care, and was doing all right for a month, and then I got sick again stayed home and ended up resigning and did not work for a time,
I then felt better and went back to work at another day care, and once again I got real sick, and had to stop working. I have not worked since 99.
My wife has seen me go through the down spiral in my health, I have become withdrawn, and do not go anywhere, my VA doc said PTSD, and I did not believe it.
I have had my exams, and then I decided to go for compensation, cause a 33 year old, should be a picture of health. I then fought with the delays, and the red tape hang-ups. It took 3 years before I received anything, not that I expected anything, I have been seen by my VA doc, and they mostly say here is a pill for pain, and then when I bring anything up to them, they seem to explain it all away.
I hope this helps, feel free to contact me if you have questions. Mamilu353@cs.com
(I did not tell everything, cause I did not want to depress you).
I will get the info to you as soon
as I can, it will be closer to the weekend, sorry. I have a full boat this week
and not much down time.
Many of the problems I have previously sent and will resend.
Much like yours except for the youngest one born after the Gulf I am dealing with Lymphoma, moodiness (due to some neurological disorder), huge amount of respiratory disorders, lack of proper growth, tourettes syndrome (not previously a disorder within the family) untreatable successfully with the normal meds, the meds do not work as they do for most people he can take them for a very short time and then they must search for some new med that his system will respond to and then it starts all over, undiagnosable rashes, frequent head pains, very hyper and no attention span to speak of at all, not that he isn't interested it's that he is unable to focus. The meds for this also seem to have an opposite reaction to Timothy than to other children with the typical diagnosis of ADHD. He seems to have more problems with being able to perform many physical activities than other kids in the civilian world, and is very irritated by it. Tim is 9 years and 9 months old and is 4 ft 8 in. tall but is only at 59 lb. he is under the 10th percentage of growth and no dietitian has been able to help with this problem. I feed him nutritious meals, he simply doesn't pick up the weight as most kids do, he sweats profusely at all times, whether sitting or moving around and has a lot of problems with his stomach. He has a lot of trouble with his health and this wasn't a pattern with any of our family members prior to Garry going to the Gulf and returning. The lymph nodes were pretty good sized when Tim was born and we were of course told that this would pass as Tim grew older that it was nothing to be worried about, it didn't pass, as Tim got older the lymph nodes in his neck grew larger and began to push against his wind pipe and of course impair his breathing and eating habits and it became difficult for him to even breathe much less do any type of physical activity, he was always on a large dose of antibiotics and this lasted about 5 1/2 years non stop antibiotics. He was sent to a specialist in the field and when we told her that Garry was in the Gulf she refused to even do an exploratory procedure on Tim and said she would not treat him at all and this has been the pattern throughout his life. He misses a lot of school so I was forced to home school him this year and part of last year so that he could continue to learn and not be penalized for an illness that the doctors have been unable to control or give more than a name. No certain causes have been given, but it sure seems strange that the doctors attempt to do something until we have to say GULF WAR.
Garry’s health has made a drastic turn around since he came home from the Gulf. He had had no previous illness short of chicken pox as a child, not even a cold. He was the picture of health. Upon his return he had a strange rash and began having what they called back spasms and suffered from an onset of Asthma and allergies that he had never had before he went to the Gulf. He has had back surgery, gallbladder surgery, elevated liver enzymes, and potassium levels with no diagnosis for the ailments, and no injuries that would cause any of the ailments. He suffers terribly from memory loss to the point that he must carry a cell phone and an electronic memory so that he can be contacted and can know where he is going and what he needs to do. He even forgets simple things like his address, phone number etc. He is only 34 and physically he seems to be as a person of 75 or so. He has the rashes, sharp debilitating sharp head pains, joint pains, strange responses to medications, such as one time they will work and the next they will have to find some other form of treatment, inability to sleep, abnormal hair loss, uncontrollable muscle twitches (jerks more like it), inability to control muscle function, example: his legs or arms won't move when he tries and he says they feel weak or heavy, and other times he won't be able to feel the limbs. He has the twitches also in his face. He has had numerous tests for the liver and potassium levels to include a biopsy and it is the same as when they removed the gallbladder, they can find no reasons for the elevation of the enzymes. Lab tests showed no disease in any of these organs just like the gallbladder no disease at all, it simply isn't functioning. He is treated by the Mental Health Doctors because they say many of the symptoms he exhibits mirror Alzheimer's but it isn't Alzheimer's, He has had many Brain scans done 2 or 3 a year typically and the doctor says that he has areas that are dead that it looks like a huge piece of Swiss cheese and it is becoming more severe each time and we can tell that this is the case because the memory loss is more apparent each day. He has so many of the symptoms that I have trouble putting them in a classification for the VA doctors, I will attempt to do so here for you not necessarily in order of severity.
1. Muscular degeneration
2. Muscular Spasms (jerks, twitches)
3. hair loss
4. Memory loss
5. night sweats
6. Deterioration of the cartilage in his joints
7. joint pain and swelling although not diagnosed as arthritis
8. Diagnosed with Reiter’s syndrome (although never had this before and not in the family, prior to the Gulf.
9. Diagnosed with Degenerative Disc/ joint Disease (although not a problem previously)
10. Numbness in legs/arms/face/shoulders etc.
11. Chronic fatigue
12. Frequent recurring head aches
13. Neurological disorders
14. Stomach/gastrointestinal problem (also never a problem previously in the family)
15. Loosing teeth although he has no cavities, this is a problem from the inside out and not a problem in any other family member and prior to the Gulf he had good strong healthy teeth only 1 cavity in his life previously.
16. Diagnosed with chronic anxiety and depression connected to the physical pain that he is in (according to the diagnosis) although not diagnosed with PTSD
18. Upper respiratory restriction (undiagnosible cause and name. to disorder) this was shown by the test they gave.
19. Reaction to many chemicals and must frequently change medications to get response in treatment. (Chemical sensitivity) Even soaps and laundry detergents
20. Frequent diarrhea/or constipation (this changes by the day)
21. Severe sensitivity to heat and humidity (unable to breathe in this setting)
22. Sensitivity to light (Although not a problem previously)
24. Frequent lack of appetite
25. undiagnosible rashes (leaving scars)
This is as you see quite a bit and there is more to it than this, I simply can't think right now, sorry I get pretty upset when I have to sit down and think about it all.
I developed as did my other children
several problems when Garry returned and many of the symptoms that Garry has
are also problems for our youngest one that has Lymphoma, etc.
Needless to say we have a large amount of problems physically and we were all very healthy prior to his return from the Gulf area of operations. I have since been diagnosed with a thyroid dysfunction as has Garry’s mother and I believe that my daughter and our youngest child will be diagnosed with the same. I had never had this problem prior to this and I was diagnosed during my pregnancy with the youngest. I had numerous problems during this pregnancy also and had not had this problem previously. I had to take shots and meds to prevent a very early birth and his heart rate was very high throughout the pregnancy. I was unable to gain weight throughout the pregnancy and the doctor continuously had to prevent miscarriage. My total weight gain during this preg. was all of 8 lbs and I had frequent bleeding and unusual pain throughout the preg. I had no such problems with any of my other pregnancies. I also had something show up in my blood that required constant monitoring although I was never told what it was and of course it was still military doctors so I was in the dark completely, except to have them tell me that I could never give blood. This was also not a problem previously.
Our daughter (which is dads shadow anytime he is around) seemed to stop growing after Garry returned. When he returned she was 1 1/2 and she was doing great in all physicals and had no problems with growth, once her dad returned she failed to gain weight and began having headaches, tummy problems (diarrhea/constipation) not responsive to any meds and the dr.s were very concerned) she weighed about 22 lbs at 1 1/2 and wasn't fat just normal healthy growth she now at 12 weighs 65 lbs and has also dropped to less than 10% on the growth chart. The doctors have run test after test on her and can find no reason for her lack of growth, migraines, and the reason for the inflammation of her lymph nodes so often. The younger 2 have been seen by a neurologist and a complete series of tests run with no success of a diagnosis. Julia our daughter slept with her dad’s sleeping bag and jacket when he returned (thinking that without it he couldn't leave again.) She also developed a rash that the doctors were unable to diagnose or treat successfully. I will attempt to list the ailments that have plagued our children since he has returned but I can't guarantee to list them all as we all seem to have no memory to speak of, I know I have to write things down when I think of them or I will generally not remember, what I was doing or why.
Children; ages 9,12,13
1. Lymphoma diagnosed within 1 year of birth although no known cause and the only treatment has been to give meds for the pain and high dosage antibiotics when it is active.
2. ADHD diagnosed (although symptoms aren't as they should all be for this diagnosis, and unresponsive to treatment) He isn't overactive exactly just unable to focus on anything for more than a short time, and he has the inability to sleep for more than 4 or 5 hours at a time and has had this problem since birth.
3. Tourettes diagnosed (although not all symptoms match typical diagnosis, the diagnosis was based on his ability control muscular twitches, spasms of the face and hands, and legs. these aren't your typical tourettes obsessions as would be associated with the disorder. I feel that he was classified for want of a better diagnosis of symptoms.
4. Undiagnosible rashes that seem to come from the inside to the outside.
5. Failure to grow as he should
6. Constant Upper respiratory infection and problems
7. Severe allergies to many chemicals (soaps, detergent, perfumes, oil, perfumes etc)
8. Lack of response to meds and they must change any meds frequently in order to gain an effective response, he also requires a higher dosage than is normal for a person his age and size.
9. Gastrointestinal disorders
10. Eye problems
11.hair falls out in large quantities
12. Leg and joint pains as well as bones hurting beyond typical growing pains (debilitating to the point even moving around and walking is enough to make him cry and beg to fix it)
13 extreme mood swings (either very high or very low and seems to explode or suffer some kind of melt down often) His body seems to cycle, it is very apparent when he is going to get sick and it is debilitating enough that he has to miss a lot of school.
This is a short list and I will close for now I have a migraine and need to stop thinking about any of this for now. I will post again to you soon I hope this is what you wanted and will help some. Just give me a day or 2 to get back with you; maybe I can put his in some order for you later. Sorry Love ya Leslie
I don't know what kind of format you would prefer, so I am just going to type it all out and you may feel free to change it anyway you want.
I volunteered for the Persian Gulf During Operation Desert Shield. As a single mother in the Army Reserves, this required many actions in accordance with the required family care plan. I was attached to a National Guard component, the 157th Military Police Company. We were staying in Khobar Towers when all of the scuds began flying and getting shot down by the patriots. We saw the sky turn black with oil once we reached our position in the desert. We built one of the two large POW/refugee camps and manned them. And we processed approximately 175,000 of these POW/refugees during our time there. I flew with the medivac team as the MP escort for the wounded POWs on many occasions. This was my job and I did function in this capacity with complete dedication to duty and at my greatest level of ability. We not only received all of the pre-deployment vaccinations, but also the anthrax vaccine. We were exposed to multiple chemical alarms and air raid sirens. We were exposed to the depleted uranium in Death Valley and elsewhere. The air was thick enough with oil burning in the distance that we were required to have a pulmonary exam once we returned home. We took the little blister packs of pills, which we were told were malaria pills. We took these for about 2 weeks and were ordered to no longer take them once we moved to our position in the desert. Many of us are now sick with various illnesses, and these seem to be the major issues being considered for why we are sick. Another consideration that has received attention is the use of DEET and other insecticides and repellents. The POW/refugee camps were sprayed heavily every other day, and we were required to use the repellents on our skin. I have seen some mention as to the possible cause of illnesses being the result of bacterial exposures. I know that this is a threat during such service because the sand contains and feeds the bacteria, and the heat fuels the ability for the spread of such. I know this because we were required to take all the clothing from incoming POW/refugees and burn the clothing items, and then process each individual through delousing. Many of these individuals had spent months sleeping, eating, urinating and defecating in the tiny little bunkers that lined the shore in Kuwait City, and they lived in those conditions for such a time that when they came to us they were suffering dementia and mental disorders from the sickness and food deprivation. There were incinerators to burn these clothing items; however, we had already been in close contact with them for hours at a time before their clothes were tossed into the incinerators. And, afterwards, we each continued working in the very clothing we wore while handling them. The incinerators were also used for burning confidential documents of the MI division. What isn't discussed is the fact that many medical records were also tossed into those very incinerators. I caught a young private of my team carrying a large interoffice envelope to the incinerators as he returned from sick call. When I approached him he told me that a Major at the field hospital had asked him to burn this envelope, and told him the contents were confidential. This was correct! This young private was taking his own medical documents to the incinerators and had no clue he was doing so. He was just following orders. This was one of many occasions whereas so many of us were just following orders without knowing that those very orders could potentially come to be so greatly regretted so many years later. Other such orders included things like ignoring chemical alarms or taking medications while not being advised regarding what exactly we were taking.
I reenlisted in the active Army in October of 1992. I was assigned to the 410th MP CO in Ft. Hood, TX where I served from 1992-1995. I would still be on active duty in the Army today if I hadn't began getting sick in 1993. I frequented the TMC and ER with night sweats, abdominal cramps, dizziness, nausea, etc to no avail. I was never diagnosed with anything and each visit was dismissed as dehydration. I was tested repeatedly for malaria, TB, and every sexually transmitted disease known to man. At one time, the doctor even gave me a shot in the ass for Chlamydia "just in case"; to later see the test results come back negative. These tests made since as I had been married and returned from a deployment to Honduras just to find my marriage coming to an end for extracurricular relations on his part. Yet, one would think I could have found some answer to what was making me so sick once those issues were ruled out. But, that never happened.
Well, today is May 19, 2002 and I still don’t have an answer to what has made me so ill. The illness has progressed to such a degree that I have lost my ability to smell, taste, feel touch to my extremities, lost all balance, visual interruptions, speech difficulties, and now live in pain daily. It was found in a compensation and pension exam in 1997 that I had macrocytosis. This is a condition, which usually accompanies pernicious anemia whereas the red blood cells become too large, hence living with a nucleus and unable to carry oxygen to the vital organs. When this happens, the young cells that are produced in the bone marrow never live to get into the body, as they are unable to travel through the blood stream past the large cells. I am not anemic in any way, but am B12 deficient due to a failure in the transporter protein of the blood to absorb the vitamin. I have been through MRI, Rheumatology, hematology, neurology, ENT, cardiology, etc. I have received many various patterns of injections of B12 Intramuscularly from a shot every 5 days, then 3 times per week, then once a month, back to 3 times a week and etc. I am currently self-injecting the vitamin every 3 weeks. I have been through 2 VA hospitals and an entire civilian medical system with no one telling me what has caused all of this. I have nosebleeds that are extreme and last up to 2 hours at a time. For this I was given a nasal spray with a steroid in it that I can use for up to 3 days at a time. No one explained what is causing this to happen. I have been to the doctor for recurrent bronchitis only to finally be prescribed an inhaler, an antibiotic, and cough syrup. I have a standing prescription for these things that I receive in the mail following every visit to the hematologist. He refills all prescriptions at every visit so that I don’t have to return to the clinic for the 6 months prior to my next appointment. I must have 4 bottles of amoxicillin and 6 bottles of cough syrup in my cupboard from this. As well as 4 bottles of 800mg Ibuprophen, sleeping pills (temazepaem, 30mg-highly addictive), allegra, etc. I couldn’t even name all the medications I have received in the mail with the vials of B12 and necessary needles even though the B12 and needles are all I use unless any one of the others is absolutely necessary. I have muscle spasms that are quite debilitating in my feet, hands, arms and legs. I began with a prescription for muscle relaxers and the sleeping pills replaced those with the intention of making me just sleep through them. This is all extensive and ridiculous as it continues to progress. My last visit was with the hematologist in January of this year. During that visit, he advised me that he can’t tell me what is wrong with me or what caused this and that all of the B12 in the world isn’t going to make it better. He further suggested that he was going to do no further testing and that he would now only see me every 6 months or so to monitor my blood. Now, I am using my husband’s Tri-Care to travel 3 hours to the Bethesda Naval Research Center in Maryland to begin the entire process all over again. The VA doesn’t care. The problems with my blood and all associated symptoms were denied in the 1997 C&P decision, and the lab results were never reported to me. I found the discrepancy myself after I lost so much neurological function in 1998. I had my case opened for reevaluation and it was declined again, dismissing everything as a genetic condition of some sort. The later rejection offered to grant me 40% disability for fibromyalgia, stating that other symptoms could not be found in my active duty service records. I have copies of the entire C&P file indicating now that the problems with my blood began in December of 1991 when the macrocytosis was initially identified. I was never told. I also found the ER and TMC reports in their records, and a large sheet of paper with copies of various labs on the sheet whereas there were handwritten notes to follow up ASAP and no follow up was done. If there were no exposures and all the vaccines were perfectly safe, then why all this run about regarding my records and treatment? Furthermore, why were we all ordered not to give blood for a period of 5 years following our return from the gulf? Why are there so many of us that can’t seem to get the process of completing the Gulf War exam actually completed? These are significant questions. I have been told that I have a perfectly healthy heart, but the report in my record states that I have an aneuritic mitral valve. I was told that the MRI of my brain was perfectly normal, but there are circles on the film around one portion of the brain. I was told that the EMG was perfectly normal (that is a nerve conduction study), but the report reads that there was a gamma portion of the exam that couldn’t be read. Why can’t we be told of these things without being lied to? It appears that someone has put an order in place so that we will all just die before anything is done or any evidence is found to help us. I am no conspiracy theorist, but this is all that makes sense to me at this point.
I will close this after the following little bit of what makes my story such a profound issue in my life. There was a period of time during the Gulf War whereas the mail was stopped due to terrorist’s threats of letter bombs being sent to our families at home. So, my car payment didn’t make it to the bank on time and I lost communication with my landlord. My car was repossessed and an invitation for me to appear at an auction to buy it back came to me in the mail 2 months after my vehicle was sold. My name fell off the waiting list for an apartment to be made available to me when I returned home as I was living in subsidized housing and a vacant apartment couldn’t be held. There was an ice storm while I was away and my storage facility leaded, destroying all of my furniture. So, I didn’t begin my war until I returned home and found myself living in a half way house, fighting for custody of my daughter, waiting for an apartment, and walking to work on a wounded leg (which I don’t want to really get into). I had been interviewed in the desert for the National Archives as one of the many single mothers serving during a war effort. I had received a certificate and letter of appreciation for my dedication to duty and great personal sacrifice. I look at this now and see that no one really understood the level of sacrifice or the amount of suffering I came home to. Now, I am married and a mother to 4 children with the youngest being just 5 years old. Now, I suffer every day and struggle to function through and survive each day. And now, there seems to be little if any appreciation for any of it. I served my country proudly and with honor to the very best of my ability, and even reenlisted after such hardships from returning home to so much hell and continued to serve in such a way. Therefore, I fully understand why myself and so many others feel that their country has let them down and turned it’s back on them. What amplifies the feelings this thought provokes is that so many of us would be there in a heartbeat to do it all over again today.
This is my story in its shortest version and with mention of only the more critical issues at hand. I know it seems horribly long in text, but I could really write a book if my memory were not also failing or coming to me so periodically. My apologies if I said too much, or occupied too much of anyone’s time.
Tracie L. Stevens
6 March 2002
Department Of Veterans Affairs
5000 Wissahickon Avenue
P.O. Box 8079
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Subject: Notice of Disagreement
RE: CSS: Tracie Leigh Stevens
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a veteran, Tracie L. Stevens, and I am writing to notify these offices of my disagreement with the rating decision dated 02/14/2002, which I have just received. The following outline will indicate exactly what I disagree with as well as why:
Now that I have covered everything I disagree with regarding the numbered items on the decision rating I received, I would like to add a few other little points. I don’t believe you have seen my entire medical record, as there are many mentions of how little time I have suffered from symptoms and the lack of evidence within service records. Some of these issues were indicated on my initial claim. I was seen at the Emergency room at Darnell Army Community Hospital, Fort Hood, Texas on numerous occasions as well as at the TMC assigned for my battalion. I was repeatedly tested for malaria and tuberculosis (both in Honduras and Texas) as well as sexually transmitted diseased. And, at one point, I was even administered an injection just in case a test result were to come back with gonorrhea. That test also came back negative. After prolonged presentation with ailing issues such as dizziness, abdominal pain, night sweats, nausea, diarrhea, etc. the Darnel Army Community Hospital suggested the Persian Gulf Registry. I had thought I had completed the exam until last year when they advised me that I had been removed from the registry for failure to complete the exam. I began the exam again last year and received a letter stating that phase one of the Persian gulf exam had been completed, and that all results had been discussed with me. However, nothing was discussed with me and I am still having difficulty getting through to the VA Allentown individual responsible for scheduling consultation for continuation.
I last saw my primary care physician, Dr. Joseph Passcuzzo of the Allentown Outpatient Clinic, on January 15, 2002. On this visit and examination, this fine doctor advised me, and I quote: “All of the B12 in the world isn’t going to change what has happened to you and your blood condition is not showing any improvement after all this time. I have never seen anyone receive so much B12 replacement therapy. It makes no sense at all to me and it is obvious that I cannot help you or tell you what is wrong with you. I am sorry.” In conclusion, he suggested that he will be doing no further testing and that he would see me every 6 months or so to evaluate my labs. This was my most recent visit with a physician who has been treating and studying me for over a year. Oddly, in his final analysis prior to throwing in the towel, he made no mention whatsoever of fybromyalgia, or any other diagnosis.
Given the amount of testing, the number of various specialty clinics, and the constant repeat of “I have no idea”, I find your generalized diagnosis more than questionable. I have been denied studies, studied into exhaustion, booted from clinic to clinic for expressing my knowledge from research, etc. I have been prescribed medications with no idea regarding what they were for. In fact, I am still receiving amoxicillian and cough syrup from bronchitis last summer. I must have at least 5 bottles of amoxicillian, 5 bottles of caugh syrup, 7 bottles of ibuprofen, and 4 bottle of a highly addictive sleep aide known as Tanzapaem because every time I see a doctor, all prescriptions are renewed so that I don’t have to be seen any sooner than absolutely necessary. Consider this as you also consider how many times I read what I wasn’t identified as being treated for while in the service, then consider that none of these conditions were present or evident in my enlistment physical in 1992. Then ask yourself why I might feel that the VA system would rather wait for this to kill me before taking any action whatsoever. I guess that it is now abundantly clear that I strongly disagree. I also feel that I am justified in expecting compensation retroactive to the date of the initial claim as my condition would not have led to permanent neurological damages if the initial lab studies had been identified, acknowledged and discussed with me so that I could have reached a conclusion regarding the cause sooner as to avoid such damages. And that goes without mentioning that some of these same symptoms were claimed in the initial claim, and denied.
I would like to request a hearing. I will call to schedule this, however, I feel you will receive this in the mail before I get through. I have a copy of most of my medical records from active duty and the VA; however, I have requested copies of everything from all establishments as I am unsure of what all I sent as evidence in support of my claim.
I will look forward to hearing from you soon with regard to a hearing date and location.
TRACIE L. STEVENS
My name is Tonia Goertz; I am 32 Years old, at the time of the Gulf War I was a 24G Hawk radar tech. I was stationed in Germany. Our unit was slated to go, so almost everyone got the shots. Our unit never did deploy, but we became the filler unit for other units so we spent the war with our bags packed. I believe that we lost about 30 people to deployment. I was in a school, so I missed them. My husband at the time did get them. Our relationship wasn’t great at the time, but the personality changes, short-term memory loss, and mood swings that occurred after he received the vaccines are what eventually ended the relationship.
I say eventually because fate had a surprise in store for me. In between field problems, schools, and 24- hour guard duty, and system problems, I got pregnant. The thing I remember most clearly is that when they finally figured out that I hadn’t gotten the shots, they sent me to TMC to get them. The medic asked if I could be pregnant, and I really didn’t know. Well, they ran the test, and I was, so I never did get the shots. No one ever asked whether my husband had gotten them, and no one ever hinted that his having them so recently could be a problem.
So life went on. We started receiving things back from units that had gone to the Gulf. They were dirty, nasty, and smelly. Because I couldn’t work on the radar, the commander figured that the most useful thing I could do, would be to help clean that stuff up. So I did. Gas Masks, chemical alarms, and wash and dry NBC suits so that they could be used for training. I did this for close to a month when I started having “asthma attacks” all the time. Before this, the only asthma problems I had ever had were during PT on really humid days. Basically I’d be sitting in a chair cleaning a mask and start wheezing for no reason. It was really scary, and finally the NBC NCO told me not to come back after I passed out on him. He was worried about what the problem would do to the baby. So I was moved from there to sleeping bags and tents. The problems got worse. I developed what was called “contact dermatitis” on the inside of my arms and on my hands. Theoretically from the soap, but that was really hard to buy considering it was the same stuff we had used since I had gotten to the unit, and I had never had a problem with it. They finally put me in the mailroom. The rash went away, and the breathing problems got better. I left the service in August 1991. I still get the rash on my arms occasionally, and heat, cold, or humidity all affect how well I can breathe.
In December of that year I delivered a baby boy. 6lb 3oz, after almost 48 hours of labor, it started Friday at midnight, and I delivered at 4:25am Sunday. He was born with an undistended testicle that the doc at that time said he would out grow, and what we called his “goggle eye”.
I left my husband due to abuse in September of 1992. The mood swings had turned violent, and I chose not to be the target any longer.
My son has had to have surgery to correct the testicle, and a hernia, and his eye is diagnosed as Browns Tendon Sheath Syndrome. He is diagnosed ADHD, and they are watching to see if his eyes quit their rapid changing soon. If they do not, he will have the diagnosis of degenerative myopia as well.
Here I will digress momentarily in the fact that as a single mom, finances were pretty bad so I went into the reserves. I served 8 months with my unit and applied for a branch transfer to active duty. I got in on the technicality that I was still married since I had not had the money to officially file for divorce. I got my transfer, and wound up in Germany again. My son stayed with my aunt, and life went on. I met my current husband Matteau while I was there.
Matteau is a theater Veteran and he will be 30 in June. He was a 68N and worked on Chinhooks. He had all of the shots, pills, etc. He has a rash that comes and goes, abnormally high body temp (99-100 is his normal), bloody stools, short-term memory problems, tremors, loss of control in his hands (he’ll be holding something and drop it, or crush it for no reason), night sweats, mood swings, light sensitivity, muscle and joint problems, and as many veterans, no diagnosis.
Between us, we have 2 beautiful daughters, a 2 yr old and a 5yr old. Each has her own unique issues. The 2 yr old has the rash, kind of like a chemical burn in her diaper area, and she gets a scaly, flakey rash on her hips. My 4 yr old is a little more complicated. She has headaches, muscle and joint pain that will keep her from doing anything at times. She has chronically swollen lymph nodes in her neck, and her blood work is skewed, all high or low normal, but because it is all within “normal ranges”, they refuse to do anything more than scratch their head. She has a speech problem for which they are doing therapy to try to correct.
All 3 of our children have problems sleeping, both going to sleep, and staying asleep. Both girls are being watched for ADHD. All 3 have had tubes put in their ears. All 3 tend to catch whatever bug comes around this week, and they keep it forever. The 2 older ones both have nausea and light sensitivity as well.
My personal belief is that most of the issues with our children are a result of our exposures during the war, and my husbands’ problems are a direct result of those exposures.
I believe that something must be done to help veterans find treatments for these issues. I believe that research into our children’s health problems must be undertaken, and I believe that the government needs to compensate all veterans and their families for the mistakes they made. Do I point to one factor as the cause of GWI/GWS? No, I don’t, but I do believe that the government had proof that giving the veterans the number of vaccines alone had the possibility to create health problems. I also believe that they had the proof, before the war, that depleted uranium could cause genetic abnormalities. I believe that they knew that the anthrax vaccine, and others were contaminated with a non-approved adjuvant, and they chose to use them anyway.
I also believe, contrary to the public denials, that the government knew exactly what chemical and biological threats our troops would face, and they chose not to inform the troops. I believe this because we sold the material to them (see the Regile report).
For me, these are the reasons I have stayed in the veterans online community, what brought me here was my 4 yr old daughter. When we took her to the oncologist to rule out autoimmune problems or cancer, a friend of my stepmother sent me a huge amount of information on cancer, depleted uranium, and toxic chemicals. One of the links on one of the hundreds of things she sent took me to AGWVA. I have been there ever since. That was a little less than a year ago. Prior to that time, I had no idea what GWI is, I had never connected our military service to our children’s problems to it, and the thing that scares me the most is the knowledge that we are not alone.
One would think that this would be a comfort, but it is not. It is not because of the fact that there are thousands and thousands of veterans and their families suffering without answers. There are thousands of children with health problems that are suffering because their parents believed in this Nation enough to serve in time of war. It is not a comfort because now that the war is over, this Nation has forgotten us, and the government insists on lying to us, ignoring us, and trying to make these health issues all about “combat stress”.
If I could have one wish, one thing that would ease my daily struggle, it would be that all veterans and their families receive prompt, quality medical treatment; disability payments without having to fight about it; and for the government to officially tell us exactly what we were exposed to so that maybe some real research and treatment can be accomplished. It has been 11 years, and thousands have already died. Hundreds of thousands are sick, and even more are still being exposed to the very things that made us sick. It is my sincere hope that this will end soon, as the next generation is in jeopardy of having a health care bill that this nation cannot afford.
I hope that this helps you to put a face to the anguish that the statistics don’t show. I also hope that it makes you angry. Angry enough to research this issue, and become involved in some small way. Whether it is simply setting someone straight about Gulf Vets as a group, or opening the eyes of a parent, who in the presence of an undiagnosed condition believes that their child is “unmotivated”, “malingering”, or just “not really sick.” The hardest part for those of us up against this is the lack of diagnosis’s, and the fact that so much has been done to make this issue less than what it is.
Thank you for your time, Tonia Goertz
Behind the lens again, photographer Hudson shoots the team that got the Gulf War babies' story told: left to right, reporter Briggs; senior editor Robert Sullivan, and contributing editor Kenneth Miller, who wrote the piece. To see the pictures associated with the following piece, please visit http://www.life.com/Life/essay/gulfwar/gulf01.html
The Kids Are Not All Right Last year, rookie LIFE reporter Jimmie Briggs took on a tough assignment: investigating a mysterious spate of birth defects among the children of Gulf War veterans. Briggs interviewed some 50 scientists, veterans' advocates and federal officials, and collected a towering stack of documents. And with Derek Hudson, a Paris-based Briton whose "Facing Vietnam" appeared in our June issue, he visited nearly a dozen families.
Those encounters could be wrenching--like the first time Briggs saw Jayce Hanson, pictured on our cover. "Jayce shimmied up to me on his bottom, pushing along a Donald Duck toy, and broke into a beautiful smile," says Briggs. "I was horrified by his condition--and amazed by his courage and strength."
Briggs Initially doubted that the children's woes had begun in the Gulf. "But whatever had harmed them," he says, "I felt I had to get their stories told." You'll find those stories in "The Tiny Victims of Desert Storm"--along with some hard questions about the risks of high-tech war, the holes in the American health-care safety net, and our duties toward the volunteers who fight our battles.
You might want to tell your representative in Congress how you feel about these issues. And if you think you or your child has a Gulf-related illness, you can register with the Veterans Administration at (800) 749-8387, the Pentagon at (800) 796-9699, or the Association of Birth Defect Children at (800) 313-ABDC.
When our soldiers risked their lives in the Gulf, they never imagined that their children might suffer the consequences--or that their country would turn its back on them.
Jayce Hanson's birth defects may stem from his father's Gulf War service. But like hundreds of other families, the Hansons face official stonewalling--and a frightening future.
He gets ear infections constantly, but he never really cries. You know how most children scream when they get earaches? Maybe he's immune to pain." -CONNIE HANSON
Flying kites with his sister, Amy, he displays a fierce determination. "He's a problem solver," says his father, Paul. Jayce suffers from a syndrome similar to that of the thalidomide babies of the 1950s. But his mother, Connie, took no drugs.
From outside, the evil that has invaded Darrell and Shana Clark's home is invisible. Set on a modest plot in a San Antonio subdivision, equipped with a doghouse and a swimming pool, the house is a shrine to the pursuit of happiness--a ranch-style emblem of the good life Darrell and 700,000 other U.S. soldiers fought for in the Persian Gulf four years ago.
Inside, the evil shows itself at once. It has taken up residence in the body of the Clarks' three-year-old daughter, Kennedi.
On a Saturday afternoon, Darrell and Shana huddle in their paneled living room. They are in their mid-twenties, robust and suntanned, but their eyes are older. Kennedi toddles about, pretending to snap pictures. You see the evil's imprint when she lowers the toy camera: Her face is grotesquely swollen, sprinkled with red, knotted lumps.
Kennedi was born without a thyroid. If not for daily hormone treatments, she would die. What disfigures her features, however, is another congenital condition: hemangiomas, benign tumors made of tangled blood vessels. Since she was a few weeks old, they have been popping up all over--on her eyelids and lips; in her throat and spinal canal. Laser surgery shrinks them, but they return again and again. They distort her speech, threaten her life. And, inevitably, they draw the stares of strangers. "When people see her," says Shana, "they say, 'Ooh, what happened to your baby?'"
Neither Shana nor her husband can answer that question conclusively, but they suspect that Kennedi's troubles have their origins in the Gulf, where Darrell served as an Army paratrooper. During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he faced a mind- boggling array of environmental hazards. Like an estimated 45,000 of his comrades, he has developed symptoms--in his case, asthma and recurring pneumonia--linked to an elusive affliction known as Gulf War syndrome. And like a growing number of Gulf War veterans, some of whom remain apparently healthy, he has fathered a child with devastating birth defects.
[The veterans] need to keep the
pressure on because . . . the companies who stand to be found liable will be in
-ADM. ELMO ZUMWALT JR.
Jayce is remarkably agile. He can feed himself marshmallows (above) or shimmy quickly across a floor. But learning to walk on prosthetic legs (right) is terribly difficult without arms to use for balance. Jayce's mother, Connie (left), holds up a mirror to help him with coordination. A devout Christian, she faces her family's troubles stoically. "I accept what God has given us," she says, "and try to make the best of it."
Researchers have been probing Gulf War syndrome since late 1991, when returning soldiers reported a spate of mysterious maladies. Conclusions have been slow to arrive. Last June the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that Gulf vets were unusually susceptible to a dozen ailments--from rashes to incontinence, hair loss to memory loss, chronic indigestion to chronic pain. But in August a Pentagon study concluded that neither the vets nor their loved ones showed signs of any "new or unique illness." Veterans' advocates disputed that finding, as did the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, which declared that the report's "reasoning . . . is not well explained." And while there is, as yet, no absolute proof that Gulf vets' babies are especially prone to congenital problems, patterns of defects have begun to emerge--patterns unlikely to result from chance alone.
During the past year, LIFE has conducted its own inquiry into the plight of these children. We sought to learn whether U.S. policies put them at risk and whether the nation ought to be doing more for them and their families. We also aimed to determine whether, as some scientists and veterans allege, the military's own investigation is deeply flawed.
The future of this country's volunteer armed forces--institutions dependent on citizens' willingness to serve, and therefore on their trust--may rest on the answers to such questions. Certainly, soldiers expect to forfeit their health, if necessary, in the line of duty. But no one expects that of a soldier's kids.
When people see her they say, 'What happened to your baby?'" -SHANA CLARK
"Adults are worse than children as far as staring," says mom Shana. Kennedi's dad, Darrell, tested positive for radiation exposure, but unless his testes are dissected no link to her condition can be proved.
Yea' Arnold was not born to a soldier, but she might as well have been: Her father went to the Gulf as a civilian helicopter mechanic with the Army's 1st Cavalry Division. On a Wednesday morning, Lea' lies naked in her parents' bed, in a small house off a gravel road in Belton, Tex. A nurse looms over her, brandishing a plastic hose.
"Don't hurt me," wails Lea.
"I'm not going to hurt you, sweetie," says the nurse. "You need to peepee."
As the nurse administers the catheter, Lisa Arnold--a sturdy woman who carries her sadness on broad shoulders--tells the story of her daughter's birth. "The doctor said, 'Well, she's got a little problem with her back.' They let me hold her for a minute, and then they took her to intensive care." Lea' had spina bifida, a split in the backbone that causes paralysis and hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. She needed surgery to remove three vertebrae. "They told us that if she lived the next 36 hours, she'd have a pretty good chance of surviving. Those 36 hours . . . it's kind of indescribable what that's like."
Three years later, Lea' has grown into a redhead like her mother, with the haunted face of a medieval martyr. She cannot move her legs or roll over. A shunt drains fluid from her skull. "She tells me every night that she wants to walk," says Richard Arnold, a soft-spoken ex-Marine.
Richard, who had fathered two healthy children before he went to war, was working for Lockheed in the Gulf. But he bunked in the desert with the troops--and that meant swallowing, inhaling and otherwise absorbing some very dicey stuff. According to a 1994 report by the General Accounting Office, American soldiers were exposed to 21 potential "reproductive toxicants," any of which might have harmed them as well as their future children. They used diesel fuel to keep down sand. They marched through smoke from burning oil wells. They doused themselves with bug sprays. They handled a toxic nerve-gas decontaminant, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether. They fired shells tipped with depleted uranium. Other teratogens--materials that cause birth defects--may have been present too. One possibility is that desert winds bore traces of Iraqi poison gas.(POISON IN THE DESERT and POISON IN THE AIR)
Some physicians who have treated Gulf vets believe they may be suffering from a general overload of chemical pollutants--and that their body fluids are actually toxic. (Indeed, many veterans' wives are sick; a few complain that their husbands' semen blisters their skin.) "It was a toxic environment," says Dr. Charles Jackson, staff physician for the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Tuskegee, Ala. Other doctors, while agreeing that chemicals or radiation may have caused birth defects, think the vets' ills came from a germ--an unknown Iraqi biological warfare agent, perhaps, or some form of leishmaniasis, a disease carried by sand flies.
Government scientists generally discount these theories. "The hard cold facts" are simply not there, says Dr. Robert Roswell, executive director of the Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board. But one hypothesis elicits even his respect. "The one argument that does deserve further study [concerns] the combination of pyridostigmine bromide with pesticides."
Pyridostigmine bromide--or PB--is a drug usually prescribed to sufferers of myasthenia gravis, a degenerative nerve disease. But animal experiments have shown that pretreatment with PB may also provide some protection from the nerve gas soman. The U.S. military therefore gave the drug to most Americans in the Gulf. Darrell Clark, for instance, took it, and Richard Arnold--now racked with chronic joint pain--probably did: "I took everything the First Cavalry took."
"Everything we hoped for just crashed. Why us? Why Cedrick?" -BIANCA MILLER
His five-year-old sister, Larissa, must be careful when they play together: A fall could dislodge the shunt in his head and lead to brain damage. Cedrick's handicaps have left his parents, Steve and Bianca, terrified of having more children.
The Defense Department may have been taking a big chance with PB. In earlier, small-scale safety trials, Air Force pilots had reported serious side effects, including impaired breathing, vision, stamina and short-term memory. (Many soldiers would experience such symptoms during the Gulf War.) Even more alarming, PB was known to worsen the effects of some kinds of nerve gas (see POISON IN THE MIX). Nonetheless, as war threatened, the Pentagon persuaded the Food and Drug Administration to waive its prohibition on testing a drug for new purposes without the subjects' "informed consent." FDA deputy commissioner Mary Pendergast defends that ruling: "You can't have your troops being the ones to decide whether they'll take some step to keep themselves healthy."
If PB did cause lasting problems, the reason could be the way it interacts with bug spray. In 1993, James Moss, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that when cockroaches are exposed to PB along with the common insect repellent DEET--used in the Gulf--the toxicity of both chemicals is multiplied. Moss says he pursued his experiments in spite of orders to stop. His contract wasn't renewed when it expired last year, and the researcher claims he was blackballed. (USDA Secretary Dan Glickman says Moss's "temporary appointment" was up and Moss knew it.) Since Moss's study, two others--one by the Pentagon itself, the second by Duke University--have found neural damage in rats and chickens exposed to another chemical cocktail, this one a mixture of PB, DEET and permethrin, an insecticide. Permethrin, however, was probably used by no more than 5 percent of U.S. soldiers in the Gulf.
Pentagon officials deny that any PB-DEET mixture could have caused birth defects in male Gulf vets' children. "I'm not aware that a male can be exposed to a chemical agent, and then two years later his sperm creates a defect," says Dr. Stephen Joseph, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. But some chemicals, such as mustard gas, have been shown to affect sperm production for even longer periods. Clearly, further research is needed to determine whether a PB-and-bug-spray combo can behave the same way.
Army Sgt. Brad Minns is pretty sure he didn't take PB, but he did take a vaccine meant to save his life if Iraq resorted to germ warfare. He fears that this medication caused his chronic fatigue--and that his Gulf War service ultimately blighted his baby's life at the root.
In their bungalow at Fort Meade, Md., Brad and his wife, Marilyn, list their son's tribulations. Casey was born with Goldenhar's syndrome, characterized by a lopsided head and spine. His left ear was missing, his digestive tract disconnected. Trying to repair his scrambled innards, surgeons at Walter Reed Army Medical Center damaged his vocal cords and colon, say Brad and Marilyn. (Ben Smith, a spokesman for Walter Reed, says, "A claim has been filed by the family, and until it's resolved [the case] is in the hands of the lawyers.") Now 26 months old, Casey speaks in sign language. His parents feed him and remove his wastes through holes in his belly. Otherwise, he's a regular kid, tearing about the sparsely decorated room, shoving pens, books, scraps of paper into his mouth. Marilyn follows, tugging them out again.
"A lot of parents have
anxieties about coming forth"
- DR. SHARON COOPER, Womack Army Medical Center
Born with organs out of place, he suffered further damage in surgery, says his father, Brad. Now Casey's chest has stopped growing, leading to fears that he may need an operation at some point to preserve function in his lungs.
"He's a little terror," says Brad, with the weariest of smiles.
A military policeman posted mainly at an airfield in Saudi Arabia, Brad, along with 150,000 other American soldiers, took a vaccine--on his commander's orders--against weapon-borne anthrax. A second vaccine, against botulism, was administered to 8,000 soldiers. A staff report issued last December by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs concluded that "Persian Gulf veterans were . . . ordered under threat of Article 15 or court-martial, to discuss their vaccinations with no one, not even with medical professionals needing the information to treat adverse reactions from the vaccine." The Senate report noted that the particular botulinum toxoid issued "was not approved by FDA." Other details from the survey: Of responding veterans who had taken the anthrax vaccine, 85 percent were told they could not refuse it, and 43 percent experienced immediate side effects. Only one fourth of the women to whom it was administered were warned of any risks to pregnancy. Of all responding personnel who had taken the antibotulism medicine, 88 percent were told not to turn it down and 35 percent suffered side effects. None of the women given botulinum toxoid were told of pregnancy risks. "Anthrax vaccine should continue to be considered as a potential cause for undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf military personnel," said the report in one of its summations. And in another: "[The botulism vaccine's] safety remains unknown."
In a conference room at the Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C., Melanie Ayers is addressing a support group for parents of Gulf War babies. "Sometimes," she says, "I wish I'd gone into a corner and stayed naive." Pixie-faced and preternaturally energetic, Ayers, 30, dates her loss of innocence to November 1993, when her five-month-old son died of congestive heart failure. Michael, who was conceived after his father, Glenn, returned from action as a battery commander in the Gulf, sweated constantly--until the night he woke up screaming, his arms and legs ice-cold. His previously undetected mitral-valve defect cost him his life.
After Michael's death, Melanie sealed off his bedroom; she tried to close herself off as well. But soon she began to encounter "a shocking number" of other parents whose post-Gulf War children had been born with abnormalities. All of them were desperate to know what had gone wrong and whether they would ever again be able to bear healthy babies. With Kim Sullivan, an artillery captain's wife whose infant son, Matthew, had died of a rare liver cancer, Melanie founded an informal network of fellow sufferers.
Surrounded by framed photos of decorated medics and nurses, a dozen of those moms and dads have come to share their worries, anger and grief. Kim is here. So is Connie Hanson, wife of an Army sergeant; her son, Jayce, was born with multiple deformities. Army Sgt. John Mabus has brought along his babies, Zachary and Andrew, who suffer from an incomplete fusion of the skull. The people in this room have turned to one another because they can no longer rely upon the military.
"They told us that if she lived the next 36 hours, she'd have a pretty good chance of surviving. Those 36 hours. . . . It's kind of indescribable what that's like." -LISA ARNOLD
Spina bifida cripples her legs. Her upper body is so weak that she can't push herself in a wheelchair on carpeting. To strengthen her bones, she spends hours in a contraption that holds her upright. Brothers Nathan (in tree) and Joey, both born before the war, are healthy. "The boys care a lot about Lea'," says her mom, Lisa. "Every time she goes to the hospital, their schoolwork suffers."
"A lot of the parents have had anxieties about coming forth with their concerns," says Dr. Sharon Cooper, the Womack Center's director of pediatrics. Cooper is one military official who, rather than taking an adversarial stance, is dedicated to helping Gulf veterans and their families cope. Many vets speak of Army physicians who dismiss physical ailments as symptoms of stress, even as fabrication. They cite an internal report by the National Guard, leaked to the press last year, which revealed that hundreds of Gulf vets had been wrongly discharged as a money-saving measure--let go with a supposedly clean bill of health, although ongoing medical problems entitled them to remain in the service for treatment. A second report, issued by the GAO earlier this year, scores the Veterans Administration for being routinely tardy with its payments to ailing vets. "When you send a veteran off to do dangerous work, I think his complaints deserve respect," says West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller. "The phrase I've used is 'reckless disregard.' There's a stark pattern of Defense Department recklessness."
For vets with afflicted babies, the runaround can be just as bad. Military doctors often ignore signs of inborn disorders, say Gulf War parents, or refuse to discuss them frankly. And when they do talk about birth defects, the doctors--and Pentagon bureaucrats--are quick to cite a statistic that drives these parents wild: At least 3 percent of American babies are born with abnormalities. To which Melanie Ayers responds: "I'd like to put my child's picture in front of them and say, 'Glance at that once in a while to make sure you're telling me the truth.'"
"There's a stark pattern of Defense Department recklessness." -SEN.JAY ROCKEFELLER
"Just about our whole world is centered around Lea'," says Lisa Arnold. Huge medical bills--and the unwillingness of insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions-- force the family to live in poverty to qualify for Medicaid.
Indeed, the truth may not be as simple as "at least three percent" implies. On a blazing Saturday afternoon, flanked by his parents, three-year-old Cedrick Miller is dangling his feet in an apartment-complex pool in San Antonio. Flossy-haired and shy, he looks younger than his age. Cedrick was born with his trachea and esophagus fused; despite surgery, his inability to hold down solid food has kept his weight to 20 pounds. His internal problems include hydrocephalus and a heart in the wrong place. But it's clear from one look that something else is awry.
Cedrick suffers, like Casey Minns, from Goldenhar's syndrome. The left half of his face is shrunken, with a missing ear and a blind eye. His mother, Bianca, says that when a prenatal exam showed the defects, "everything we'd hoped for just crashed. What had Cedrick done to deserve this?"
Steve Miller, a former Army medic, thinks chemicals damaged his sperm. He believes statistical evidence is at hand. "With Goldenhar's," he says, "we have clustering."
Clustering is the term epidemiologists use when an ailment strikes one group of people more than others--and the phenomenon can be a key indicator that something more than chance is causing birth defects. The Association of Birth Defect Children says it has found the first cluster of defects in the offspring of U.S. Gulf veterans: 10 babies with severe Goldenhar's syndrome, a condition that usually strikes one in 26,000, according to ABDC executive director Betty Mekdeci. (Another case has surfaced in Britain, where 600 vets complain of Gulf-related illness.) The ABDC, which has gathered data on 163 ailing Gulf War babies so far, is tracking four more possible clusters--of victims of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, of atrial-septal heart defect, of microcephaly and of immune-system deficiencies. Significantly, not one of the parents in the ABDC survey has a family history of these types of birth defects. Or as Mekdeci puts it, "There have been no relatives with funny ears."
The difficulty in proving conclusively whether clusters are occurring is that no one--not Mekdeci, not the Pentagon--knows how many babies have been born to Gulf vets. The Defense Department's own survey of 40,000 birth outcomes, initial results of which are due in late October, is the largest study yet, but far from complete since it relies on data only from military hospitals. The Pentagon's Dr. Joseph says the forthcoming report will include "by far the best and most comprehensive information available." Maybe it will, but many still question whether Defense Department scientists are really seeking the hard answers. Earlier this year Dr. Joseph told LIFE that, although trained as a pediatrician, he was entirely unfamiliar with "Goldhavers or Gold Heart--whatever." It's precisely that kind of response that enrages veterans with afflicted babies.
Along with the ABDC and Defense Department surveys, more than 30 other studies of Gulf vets and their children are under way. One that is no longer ongoing, by the Senate Banking Committee, folded last year when committee chair Don Riegle retired. Of the 400 sick vets who had already answered committee inquiries, a startling 65 percent reported birth defects or immune-system problems in children conceived after the war.
"A millionaire couldn't care for these kids." -LISA ARNOLD
An airplane swing sets Jayce free.
Although Riegle is gone, there are a few others in Washington fighting for afflicted Gulf War families. One is Rockefeller, but in recent months he has lost clout. After last year's GOP landslide, he was ousted as chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, which produced the 1994 report on PB and vaccine use in the Gulf. The new chair, Alan Simpson (R--Wyo.), plans no action "until the hard science is in," says an aide.
Then there is Hillary Rodham Clinton, the point person for an administration that, by pushing through a 1994 law mandating benefits for vets with symptoms, has cast itself as a friend of Gulf War syndrome sufferers. On August 14, at the opening session of the presidential advisory committee on the syndrome, she declared, "Just as we relied on our troops when they were sent to war, we must assure them that they can rely on us now."
Whatever White House fact finders discover, there's no guarantee that Gulf War babies will get government help. As it stands, a soldier's children receive free medical care only as long as a parent remains in the service. For parents who return to civilian life, the going can be grim. Moreover, the government's record on earlier military health grievances is hardly reassuring. Soldiers unwittingly used in radiation experiments in the 1950s, for instance, had to fight the VA for compensation until the 1980s. And Vietnam veterans claim that scientists manipulated evidence to hide the ravages of Agent Orange. "The CDC actually skewed the data," says retired Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., who blames his son's fatal cancer on the defoliant. Vietnam vets won a $180 million settlement from Agent Orange manufacturers, but not until 1984. Gulf vets, says Zumwalt, "need to keep the pressure on, because in the case of Agent Orange--and I'm sure it'll occur with Desert Storm syndrome--the companies who stand to be found liable for any harmful effects will be in there lobbying."
A few Desert Storm families have been relatively lucky--the Clarks, for instance, whose daughter has been granted free treatment through November of 1996, thanks to an Air Force doctor who recommended her as a subject for study. But others have been denied insurance coverage for "preexisting conditions." They are being driven into poverty; some join the welfare line so Medicaid will help with the impossible burden. "You could be a millionaire, and there's no way you could take care of one of these children," says Lisa Arnold.
Betty Mekdeci thinks Congress should set up a special insurance fund for families like the Arnolds. "The very least we owe these folks is to provide them with a guarantee of care," she says. "I'd be glad to pay the extra taxes to do it.""
"I'm angry, frustrated and sad," says Darrell Clark. "It's unfortunate that no one will speak up and say, 'Maybe we made a mistake. How can we help you get on with your lives?'"
Packed into an airplane-shaped swing at his grandmother's house in Charlottesville, Va., Jayce Hanson is getting on with his life as best he can. A cherubic, rambunctious blond, he's the unofficial poster boy of the Gulf War babies--seen by millions in People. Jayce is the center of attention here, too, as his father pushes the swing and a photographer snaps his picture. But since his last major public appearance, he has undergone a change: His lower legs are missing.
Now three years old, Jayce was born with hands and feet attached to twisted stumps. He also had a hole in his heart, a hemophilia-like blood condition and underdeveloped ear canals. Doctors recently amputated his legs at the knees to make it easier to fit him with prosthetics. "He'll say once in a while, 'My feet are gone,'" says his mother, Connie, "but he's been a real trouper."
During the war, Paul Hanson breathed heavy oil smoke; he stopped taking PB pills early, because they made him dizzy. Now he suffers regularly from headaches, nausea, tightness in the chest. Still, he is optimistic for his son.
"Jayce is very bright," says Paul. "He doesn't realize his limitations. But when he grows up and says, 'Why am I not like everybody else?' we'd like to be able to explain it to him."
DID PYRIDOSTIGMINE BROMIDE HURT RATHER THAN HELP?
Whether or not it proves to have caused birth defects, the way pyridostigmine bromide was used in the Gulf was highly questionable. For one thing, its effectiveness against the nerve gas soman may have been undermined by bad planning. U.S. troops (and those of several allied countries) took PB as a pretreatment for exposure to soman. But by itself, PB does nothing, it only helps the antidote to soman work better once exposure has occurred. Atropine is one of two chemicals used in the antidote, but the dose of atropine contained in U.S. personnel antidote kits was inadequate, according to a December 1994 report by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Worse, says the report, experiments show that PB makes animals more vulnerable to some nerve agents, such as sarin (the gas used in this year's Tokyo subway attacks). As it happened, sarin was one of the gases detected by chemical monitors during Desert Storm. The Pentagon says these detections were unreliable, but if there were even minute traces of sarin on the battlefield, PB may have exacerbated its effects.
Personal note: Unfortunately I was unable to locate the other articles related to this. TSG
Downloaded from http://www.life.com/Life/essay/gulfwar/gulf01.html on 5/9/5002
For the complete paper: http://www.ccnr.org/du_hague.html
Hague Peace Conference, May 1999 By Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., G.N.S.H.
Uranium metal is autopyrophoric and can burn spontaneously at room temperature in the presence of air, oxygen and water. At temperatures of 200-400 degrees Centigrade, uranium powder may self-ignite in atmospheres of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Oxidation of uranium under certain conditions may generate sufficient energy to cause an explosion (Gindler 1973). Friction caused by bullet or missile entry into a tank or armored car, for example, can cause the uranium to ignite, forming a concentrated ceramic aerosol capable of killing most personnel in the vehicle. Depleted uranium was used extensively in place of tungsten for ordnance by the US and UK in the Gulf War.
There is no dispute of the fact that at least 320 tons of depleted uranium (DU) was "lost" in the Gulf war, …It would have been impossible for ground troops to identify this exposure if or when it occurred in war, as this would require specialized detection equipment. However, veterans can identify situations in which they were likely to have been exposed to DU. Civilians working at military bases where live ammunition exercises are conducted may also have been exposed.
Uranium oxide and its aerosol form are insoluble in water. The aerosol resists gravity, and is able to travel tens of kilometers in air. Once on the ground, it can be resuspended when the sand is disturbed by motion or wind. Once breathed in, the very small particles of uranium oxide, those which are 2.5 microns or less in diameter, could reside in the lungs for years, slowly passing through the lung tissue into the blood. Uranium oxide dust has a biological half- life in the lungs of about a year. According to British NRPB [National Radiation Protection Board ] experiments with rats, the ceramic or aerosol form of uranium oxide takes "twice as long" or about a two year biological half life in the lungs, before passing into the blood stream. [Stradling et al 1988]
…The uranium compounds which enter the body either through the wall of the gastro-intestinal tract or the lungs, can be broken down in the body fluids… Uranium generally forms complexes with citrate, bicarbonates or protein in plasma, and it can be stored in bone, lymph, liver, kidney or other tissues. Eventually this uranium which is taken internally is excreted through urine. Presence of depleted uranium in urine seven or eight years after exposure is sufficient evidence to substantiate long term internal contamination and tissue storage of this radioactive substance.
Uranium is both a chemical toxic and radioactive hazard: Soluble uranium is regulated because of its chemical toxicity, measured by damage to the kidney and tubules. Uranium is a heavy metal, known to cause uranium nephritis. Insoluble uranium, such as was released in the Gulf War, is regulated by its radiological properties, and not its chemical properties. Because of its slow absorption through the lungs and long retention in body tissues, its primary damage will be due to its radiological damage to internal organs rather than chemical damage to the renal system. Obviously, both types of damage occur simultaneously, therefore it is a matter of judgment which severe damage, radiological or chemical, occurs at the lowest dose level. However, with the lengthening of the time during which the contaminant resides in the body and the low overall dose, the risk of cancer death becomes greater than the risk of significant damage to the renal system….
However, because of the concentration of the uranium in the depleted uranium waste, depleted uranium is much more radioactive than uranium in its natural state.
Uranium and all of its decay products, …, are heavy metals. Unlike some other heavy metals which are needed in trace quantities by the human body, there is no known benefit to having uranium in the body. It is always a contaminant. ..
The US has not yet conformed to the 1990 international recommendations which were used for this calculation, and it is still permitting the general public to receive five times the above general public amount, and the worker to receive 2.5 times the above occupational amount. The US may have used its domestic "nuclear worker" limits during the Gulf War, if it used any protective regulations at all. The military manual discusses the hazards of depleted uranium as less than other hazardous conditions on an active battle field!
The maximum dose per year from anthropogenic sources can be converted to the maximum concentration permissible in air using the fact that the adult male breathes in about 23 cubic metres of air in a day [ICRP 1977]. The maximum permissible concentration in air for the general public would be: 0.14 microgram per cu metre, and for workers: 2.9 micrograms per cu m assuming the Gulf War situation of continuous occupancy rather than a 40 hour work week, and an 8 hour day. It is common in the US and Canada to refer to 2000 pounds as a "ton", whereas the British "ton" is 2240 pounds. Both are roughly 1000 kg. Just in order to understand the scale of the ceramic uranium released in Desert Storm, at least 300 million grams were "lost", and breathing in only 0.023 g would be equivalent to the maximum permissible inhalation dose for a nuclear worker to receive in a year under the 1990 recommendations of ICRP.
Potential testing includes:
· chemical analysis of uranium in urine, feces, blood and hair;
· tests of damage to kidneys, including analysis for protein, glucose and non-protein nitrogen in urine;
· radioactivity counting; or
· more invasive tests such as surgical biopsy of lung or bone marrow.
Experience with Gulf War veterans indicates that a 24 hour urine collection analysis shows the most promise of detecting depleted uranium contamination seven or eight years after exposure. However, since this test only measures the amount of depleted uranium which has been circulating in the blood or kidneys within one or two weeks prior to the testing time, rather than testing the true body burden, it cannot be directly used to reconstruct the veteran's dose received during the Gulf War. However, this seems to be the best diagnostic tool at this time, eight years after the exposure….
In Volume 2 of the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health, under uranium alloys and compounds, page 2238, it reads:
"Uranium poisoning is characterized by generalized health impairment. The element and its compounds produce changes in the kidneys, liver, lungs and cardiovascular, nervous and haemopoietic systems, and cause disorders of protein and carbohydrate metabolism.....
Chronic poisoning results from prolonged exposure to low concentrations of insoluble compounds and presents a clinical picture different from that of acute poisoning. The outstanding signs and symptoms are pulmonary fibrosis, pneumoconiosis, and blood changes with a fall in red blood count; haemoglobin, erythrocyte and reticulocyte levels in the peripheral blood are reduced. Leucopenia may be observed with leucocyte disorders (cytolysis, pyknosis, and hypersegmentosis).
There may be damage to the nervous system. Morphological changes in the lungs, liver, spleen, intestines and other organs and tissues may be found, and it is reported that uranium exposure inhibits reproductive activity and affects uterine and extra-uterine development in experimental animals. Insoluble compounds tend to be retained in tissues and organs for long periods."
The Anthrax, and Botox. Vaccines & PB pills:
There is SO much I could put here, but I will only mention that very few if any received consent forms to sign regarding these experimental vaccines and drugs. Very few were informed of the known risks of taking these, and many were not even told what they were being given, or what the pills were for. This is a patented violation of the Nuremburg Code that states:
THE NUREMBERG CODE
In 1947 the War Crimes Tribunal meeting at Nuremberg convicted 23 German defendants, most of whom were physicians, of performing criminal experiments on human subjects. The Tribunal propounded ten standards to guide physicians in carrying out future experiments on human subjects
“The great weight of the evidence before us is to the effect that certain types of medical experiments on human beings, when kept within reasonably well-defined bounds, conform to the ethics of the medical profession generally. The protagonists of the practice of human experimentation justify their views on the basis that such experiments yield results for the good of society that are unprocurable by other methods or means of study. All agree, however, that certain basic principles must be observed in order to satisfy moral, ethical and legal concepts."
1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.
The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs, or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.
2. The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random or unnecessary in nature.
3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results justify the performance of the experiment.
4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.
5. No experiment should be conducted where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.
6. The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.
7. Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.
8. The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who conduct or engage in the experiment.
9. During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he had reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.
10. During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill, and careful judgment required of him that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject."
to read the full testimony: http://www.vva.org/LegIss/012402tes.htm
To VVA’s knowledge, neither Armed Services committee has addressed this issue in detail, which has direct relevance for this subcommittee as well. For if we are continuing to buy defective or inadequate NBC detection equipment for our forces, how can we be sure our troops are properly protected from the full-range of NBC threats? Conversely, if the equipment has worked as advertised, then DoD’s claims of “all alarms false” is itself untrue. Pentagon officials cannot have it both ways. And if DoD has lied about the capabilities of the NBC defense equipment it has purchased, how can we believe DoD’s claims that low-level chemical exposures will not have long-term adverse health effects?
The General Accounting Office (GAO) addressed the issue of low-level chemical exposures in a September 1998 report, in which DoD officials admitted that their NBC detection doctrine
address low-level exposures on the battlefield because there is no (1) validated threat, (2)
definition of low-level exposures, (3) or consensus on the
effects of such exposures. Moreover, if low-level exposures were to be addressed, DoD officials said that the cost implications could be significant.
In other words, it would be too expensive to protect American troops from such exposures, even though, as GAO pointed out,
Past research by DoD and others indicates that single and repeated low-level exposures to some chemical warfare agents can result in adverse psychological, physiological, behavioral, and performance effects that may have military implications.
During the 1990’s, GAO repeatedly questioned the Pentagon’s progress in addressing these and other major NBC equipment and training problems. While a November 2000 GAO report on individual unit NBC readiness found considerable improvement in the services’ ability to properly equip forces for operating in an NBC environment, training and readiness reporting deficiencies remain. A more recent GAO report found that “In general, DoD has not successfully adapted its conventional medical planning to chemical/biological warfare.”
VVA has seen no evidence that the Pentagon is taking the potential health risks of low-level NBC exposures seriously, despite mounting scientific evidence that such exposures do indeed pose risks, as the 2000 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Gulf War and Health, Volume One has suggested. Congress should carefully evaluate DoD’s current NBC detection technology to determine if previous equipment acquisitions were made under false pretenses or whether DoD officials have engaged in a public relations disinformation campaign to discredit valid wartime chemical detections as a means of deligitimizing Gulf War illnesses. We believe any serious investigation will quite likely find the latter explanation to be the true one.
If the Defense Department’s approach to NBC threat detection has been negligent, its approach to biomedical defense has been equally troubling.
Seeking a preemptive medical response to the Iraqi chemical warfare threat, in the fall of 1990 the Defense Department obtained an investigational new drug (IND) exemption from the Food and Drug Administration to use a drug, pyrodostigmine bromide (PB), as a chemical warfare prophylactic. Ostensibly, PB was intended to protect the troops from the effects of nerve gas exposure. During Desert Storm, at least 250,000 Army troops swallowed one or more of the little white pills. Taking PB was not optional; troops who refused faced punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
After years of denying there was a problem with PB, Bernard Rostker (the Pentagon’s point man on Gulf War illnesses) told the Senate Veterans Affairs committee in 1998 that PB should never have been given to U.S. soldiers. Rostker admitted that DoD’s “threat assessment” had been wrong, that Iraq had probably not in fact weaponzied the nerve agent soman, the effects of which PB was thought to be capable of countering. Given its potential effects on the brain’s neurotransmission process, PB has long been suspected as a cause of the neurological problems reported by so many Gulf War veterans. Amazingly, PB is still in the Pentagon’s NBC medical formulary, and Department officials have said they may still use PB in future conflicts, if the “threat assessment” so warrants.
In a similar vein, the Pentagon’s infatuation with vaccine-based biological defense has already proved to be a costly military and public health failure.
Prior to Desert Storm the Pentagon sought to employ a 20-year old anthrax vaccine as a biological warfare prophylactic. Even though this vaccine had never been approved by the FDA for such a use, the Pentagon managed to secure FDA acquiescence and proceeded to inoculate an estimated 150,000 troops with one or more doses of the vaccine. Because use of the vaccine was classified at the time, medical record keeping in this area was compromised, and the true effects of the vaccine on the wartime recipients remains unknown.
Seven years after the end of the war, the Pentagon resumed the inoculations under the rubric of the force-wide Anthrax Vaccine Inoculation Program (AVIP). Shortly after the AVIP began, reports of severe system adverse reactions to the vaccine began to emerge in the press. Over the next three years, a number of key facts about the vaccine would emerge, data that would once again highlight the Pentagon’s wanton disregard for both the truth and the health of servicemembers. Consider these facts:
· At the beginning of the AVIP, DoD officials claimed the systemic adverse reaction rate for the vaccine was a mere .2%. During its investigation of the AVIP, GAO found data suggesting systemic adverse reaction rates in the range of 5-14%, dozens of times higher than Pentagon had claimed.
· A calendar year 2000 GAO survey of National Guard and Reserve forces found systemic adverse reaction rates being reported by almost one quarter of respondents.
· Only last week, the Army Times reported on the preliminary results of a Navy study that showed evidence of an increased incidence of birth defects in children born to mothers who had received the anthrax vaccine, compared to a control group of mothers who had not.
· The FDA has yet to certify that Bioport Corporation, the vaccine’s manufacturer, has successfully corrected major problems discovered at the production plant three years ago.
Given the AVIP’s abysmal track record, all of us should be deeply concerned about the Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program (JVAP), the $322 million cost-plus biowarfare vaccine program initiated in 1998 by the Pentagon’s Joint Program Office for Biological Defense.
The JVAP calls for the Dynport Corporation to develop at least three, and possibly as many 12, additional biological warfare vaccines over the next decade. What happens when you give a human being a dozen or more BW vaccines? Nobody knows. Not DoD, NIH, CDC, the World Health Organization or any other medical or scientific body.
Will these vaccines actually work against a real threat? Again, nobody knows; no challenge or efficacy studies have been conducted in animals, so far as VVA is aware. This means that the JVAP is a giant biowarfare defense gamble; it assumes that our enemies will field weapons that our vaccines will defeat. As with so many other things, the Gulf War experience is instructive here.
Prior to the Gulf War, American intelligence agencies believed that Iraq had weaponized both anthrax and botulinum toxoid. Post-war United Nations inspections verified the estimate. Only in 1995 did the world learn that Iraq also had weaponized aflatoxin, an obscure but potentially deadly plant fungus. Had Saddam’s late son-in-law Hussein Kamal not defected to Jordan and revealed it, Iraq’s aflatoxin program would have remained hidden from the international community…despite the most intrusive arms control inspection effort in history.
What we sold them:
Findings of the Riegle Report:
1. Iraq had a highly-developed chemical warfare program with: numerous large production facilities; binary (precursor chemical/solvent) capabilities, stockpiled agents and weapons; multiple and varied delivery systems; and, a documented history of chemical warfare agent use.
2. Iraq had an offensive biological weapons program with: multiple research/production facilities; evidence of weaponization experimentation; and, a history of reported but unconfirmed use.
3. The United States provided the Government of Iraq with "dual use" licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological, and missile- system programs, including:(6) chemical warfare agent precursors; chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment.
4. The United States military planned for the use of chemical and biological weapons by Iraq by: discussing the chemical/biological threat in pre-war threat assessments; designating chemical/biological production facilities priority bombing targets; assigning a very high priority to SCUD missile units; and, conferring with the U.S. national laboratories about the hazards associated with the bombings of the chemical, biological, nuclear weapons facilities.
5. The United States military made preparations for the expected use of chemical/biological weapons by Iraq, including: acquiring German-made FOX NBC detection surveillance vehicles shortly before the war; deploying as part of standard operating procedure, automatic chemical agent alarms, chemical agent detection equipment, chemical decontamination equipment, and chemical agent protection suits, gloves, boots, and masks; administering anthrax vaccines, an experimental botulinum toxin vaccine, and pyridostigmine bromide as a nerve agent pretreatment pill; and, preparing and using personnel medical questionnaires asking soldiers departing the theater about their health and whether or not they believed they were exposed to chemical or germ warfare. U.S. General Accounting Office reports issued after the war noted deficiencies in U.S. military medical preparations for chemical/biological warfare, including potential shortages of vaccines, NBC equipment, and NBC capability.
6. United States and Coalition Forces did detect chemical warfare agents in conjunction with definable events, including: multiple chemical alarms sounding repeatedly with the onset of the air war, and directly attributed by multiple official and unofficial sources to the fallout from the bombings of Iraqi chemical facilities; multiple chemical agent alarm soundings and chemical detections after both missile attacks or otherwise unexplained explosions; Czechoslovak, French, and British unit detections and reporting of chemical/biological agents in the air, in puddles on the ground, after SCUD attacks, and from artillery or chemical mine explosions; U.S. units detected and/or reported chemical agents in the air, as a result of SCUD missile attacks, after artillery or mine explosions, and from Iraqi munitions bunkers; multiple eyewitness reporting and corroboration of a number of direct attacks as well as ongoing alarms due to fallout from the Coalition bombings; and, news reports during the war confirming that U.S. units made detections of chemical agents which they believed were the result of Coalition bombings.
7. U.S. and Coalition Forces were exposed to fallout from Coalition bombings of Iraqi chemical, biological, and nuclear facilities, as evidenced by: pre-war assessments made by the U.S. national laboratories of the fallout to be expected from the bombings; post-war assessments of the degree of damage to these facilities and the quantities of agents which survived the Coalition attacks; official weather documents showing a continual movement from Iraq of weather patterns down across Coalition troop emplacements throughout the air and ground wars; chemical alarms that began sounding nearly contemporaneous with the initiation of the air war, and actual chemical detections confirming the reasons for the alarm soundings; and, hen Secretary of Defense Aspin's December 1993 comments that the U.S. needed to develop bombs that could target chemical and biological warfare facilities without releasing large amounts of agent into the air.
8. Wartime and post-war discoveries support the conclusion that Iraq had chemical and possibly biological weapons deployed with front line units and was prepared to and did use them, as evidenced by: UNSCOM findings of large and well-financed chemical and biological warfare programs, including large stocks of missiles, artillery, aerial bombs, rockets, and mines; U.S. military unit reports of finding chemical munitions in the forward area, including artillery, mines, and bulk agents; captured Iraqi documents purportedly containing orders to use chemical weapons (documents currently being independently verified); reported British intercepts of Iraqi communications giving orders to use chemical weapons at the onset of the ground war; and, UNSCOM reports of the discovery and subsequent destruction of 28 Scuds with chemical agent warheads -- obtained from the Soviet Union.
9. Use of biological weapons during the war can only be inferred at this time because: no biological agent detectors are available for or fielded with any U.S. or Coalition forces, no samples are known to have been collected in situ or from sick military personnel or animals for testing for the presence of biological agents, current test results from sick veterans and contaminated equipment are not yet publicly available.
10. The symptomology of the Gulf War veterans is consistent with exposure to a chemical/biological exposure explanation, illustrated by: large body of common symptoms; and, distribution of illness that appear related to source of exposures, whether by proximity to an explosion, fallout, reaction to pills, contact with EPWs, contact with contaminated vehicles and equipment, or prolonged exposure to sick veterans.
The following is a detailed listing of biological materials, provided by the American Type Culture Collection, which were exported to agencies of the government of Iraq pursuant to the issuance of an export licensed by the U.S. Commerce Department:(55)
Class III pathogen
Date : May 2, 1986
Sent to : Ministry of Higher Education
1. Bacillus Anthracis Cohn (ATCC 10)
Batch # 08-20-82 (2 each)
Class III pathogen.
2. Bacillus Subtilis (Ehrenberg)
Cohn (ATCC 82)
Batch # 06-20-84 (2 each)
3. Clostridium botulinum Type A
Batch# 07-07-81 (3 each)
Class III Pathogen
4. Clostridium perfringens (Weillon
and Zuber) Hauduroy, et al (ATCC 3624)
Batch# 10-85SV (2 each)
5. Bacillus subtilis (ATCC 6051)
Batch# 12-06-84 (2 each)
6. Francisella tularensis var.
tularensis Olsufiev (ATCC 6223)
Batch# 05-14-79 (2 each)
Avirulent, suitable for preparations of diagnostic antigens.
7. Clostridium tetani (ATCC 9441)
Batch# 03-84 (3 each)
8. Clostridium botulinum Type E
Batch# 03-02-79 (2 each)
Class III pathogen
9. Clostridium tetani (ATCC 10779)
Batch# 04-24-84S (3 each)
10. Clostridium perfringens (ATCC
Batch# 08-14-80 (2 each)
Agglutinating type 2.
11. Clostridium perfringens (ATCC
Batch# 07-84SV (3 each)
Type A, alpha-toxigenic, produces lecithinase C.J. Appl.
12. Bacillus Anthracis (ATCC 14185)
Batch# 01-14-80 (3 each)
G.G. Wright (Fort Detrick) V770-NP1-R. Bovine anthrax,
Class III pathogen
13. Bacillus Anthracis (ATCC 14578)
Batch# 01-06-78 (2 each)
15. Bacillus megaterium (ATCC 14945)
Batch# 06-21-81 (2 each)
16. Clostridium botulinum Type E
Class III pathogen.
17. Bacillus megaterium (ATCC 19213)
Batch# 3-84 (2 each)
18. Clostridium botulinum Type A
Batch# 08-18-81 (2 each)
Class III pathogen
19. Brucella abortus Biotype 3 (ATCC
Batch# 08-02-84 (3 each)
Class III pathogen
21. Brucella melitensis Biotype 1
Batch# 03-08-78 (2 each)
Class III pathogen
22. Brucella melitensis Biotype 3
Batch# 01-29-68 (2 each)
Class III pathogen
Class III pathogen
24. Clostridium botulinum Type F
Batch# 02-02-84 (2 each)
Date : January 17, 1989
Sent to : Iraq Atomic Energy
1. Hulambda4x-8, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57237) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli
2. Hulambda14, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s): X q26.1 (ATCC 57240) Cloned from human lymphoblast Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli
3. Hulambda15, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57241) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control has compiled a listing of biological materials shipped to Iraq prior to the Gulf War. The listing covers the period from October 1, 1984 (when the CDC began keeping records) through October 13, 1993. The following materials with biological warfare significance were shipped to Iraq during this period:(56)
Date : November 28, 1989
Sent to : University of Basrah,
College of Science, Department of Biology
1. Enterococcus (7 kinds)
8. Streptococcus bovis (etiologic)
Date : June 25, 1985
Sent to : University of Baghdad,
College of Medicine , Department of Microbiology
1. 3 yeast cultures (etiologic) Candida sp.
Date : May 21. 1985
Sent to : Basrah, Iraq
1. Lyophilized arbovirus seed (etiologic)
2. West Nile Fever Virus
Date : April 26, 1985
Sent to : Minister of Health,
Ministry of Health, Baghdad, Iraq
1. 8 vials antigen and antisera (r. rickettsii and r. typhi) to diagnose rickettsial infections (non-infectious)
UNSCOM Biological Warfare Inspections
UNSCOM inspections uncovered
evidence that the government of Iraq was conducting research on pathogen
enhancement on the following biological warfare-related materials:(57)
In addition, the UNSCOM inspections
revealed that biological warfare-related stimulant research was being conducted
on the following materials:
UNSCOM reported to Committee staff that a biological warfare inspection (BW3) was conducted at the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission in 1993. This suggests that the Iraqi government may have been experimenting with the materials cited above (E.Coli and rDNA) in an effort to create genetically altered microorganisms (novel biological warfare agents). Committee staff plans to interview the BW3 team leader, Col. David Franz of the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in the near future. This phase of the investigation continues.
And this is only an excerpt; there are 4 or 5 more pages like this.
I realize that this presentation has been lengthy, and I sincerely appreciate your time. I sincerely hope that you now are more aware of the issues involved and the pain suffered by Veterans and their families.
I honestly wish I could tell you that this kind of problem was solely a Gulf War veterans issue, but the reality is that the problems we are facing are faced by ALL veterans to varying degrees, therefore it is not solely an issue for us, rather for ALL Veterans past, present and future, and concerned citizens of this nation.
Thank you again for your time, Tonia Goertz