Gulf War Syndrome

Another Gulf War Syndrome?

Burning trash on bases is sickening soldiers, but the Army refuses to extinguish the burn pits.
By Beth Hawkins

Danielle and Nienajadlo

Before her last deployment, 31-year-old Staff Sergeant Danielle Nienajadlo passed her Army physical with flying colors. So when she started having health problems several weeks after arriving at Balad Air Base in Iraq, no one knew what to make of her symptoms: headaches that kept her awake; unexplained bruises all over her body; an open sore on her back that wouldn't heal; vomiting and weight loss. In July 2008, after three miserable months, Nienajadlo checked into the base emergency room with a 104-degree fever.

She was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and learned she had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a fast-progressing form of the disease. She told her doctors and her family she had felt fine until she started inhaling the oily black smoke that spewed out of the base's open-air trash-burning facility day and night. At times, the plume contained dioxins, some of which can cause the kind of cancer Nienajadlo had.

"She breathed in this gunk," says her mother, Lindsay Weidman. "She'd go back to the hooch at night to go to bed and cough up these black chunks."

In the past 17 months, more than 500 veterans have contacted Disabled American Veterans (DAV), a national nonprofit serving vets, to report illnesses they blame on the burn pits. Throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors—many of the burn pits are operated by companies like former Halliburton subsidiary KBR—have dumped hundreds of tons of refuse into giant open-air trenches, doused the piles with fuel, and left them to burn. The trash includes plastic, metal, asbestos, batteries, tires, unexploded ordnance, medical waste, even entire trucks. (The military now operates several actual incinerators and has made efforts to create recycling programs, but the majority of war-zone trash is still burned in pits.)

On Burn Pits Action Center, a website operated by the staff of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.)—who learned of the problem via the reporting of Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy in 2008—GIs describe dumping rat poison, hydraulic fluid, and pressure-treated wood into the pits. "When the question was raised about what we were off-loading for burning, the answer was along the lines of 'Don't worry about it as the heat will burn up the bad stuff so it isn't a threat,'" reported Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class John Wingfield, who served near Balad in 2004 and 2005.

Veterans' groups worry that the smoke floods bases with a stew of carcinogens, toxins, and lung-clogging fine particles. An Army study released in early 2009 found that particulate matter at 15 sites exceeded both EPA and US military standards. Even short-term exposure could sicken—or kill—service members, the report warns. As early as 2006, an Air Force engineer stationed at Balad warned superiors in a memo that smoke from the burn pits presented "an acute health hazard" for service members. "It is amazing that the burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past several years," the engineer, Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, wrote. Military statistics also show a steep increase in respiratory problems in troops since the start of the Iraq War.

In a written statement, KBR told Mother Jones that it operates burn pits "pursuant to Army guidelines and regulations." The military's own air sampling has turned up dioxins, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other potential hazards in the air at Balad. The Pentagon has insisted they were at levels that posed no significant threat—though last December, a top military health official acknowledged to the Salt Lake Tribune that smoke from the pits may cause long-term health problems. (Neither Pentagon officials nor the White House responded to requests for comment on this story.)

The government's reluctance to acknowledge the potential hazard has frustrated veterans' advocates, who remember how long it took for the Pentagon to recognize Gulf War Syndrome in the 1990s, and to acknowledge the health problems caused by aerial spraying during the Vietnam War. "We don't want another Agent Orange," says John L. Wilson, DAV's assistant national legislative director. "Silence does not do any good."

If the pits are harming troops and Iraqis, there's no telling how many. Many cancers won't reveal themselves for a decade or more, and many respiratory symptoms tend to be misdiagnosed as asthma. Like Nienajadlo, Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel Michelle Franco, 48, had a clean bill of health when she shipped out to Balad three years ago. The 18-foot walls surrounding her quarters kept out mortar fire, but not the smoke: "You could smell it; you could taste it." As a nurse, Franco suspected the "plume crud" was hazardous. She knew that in addition to amputated limbs from her medical facility, the base's waste included hundreds of thousands of water bottles every week—and she knew burning plastic releases cancer-causing dioxins. After just five months at the base, Franco sustained permanent lung damage. She's lucky, she says, that she kept asking questions when harried doctors handed her an inhaler. She expects her diagnosis—untreatable reactive airway dysfunction syndrome—to ultimately push her into retirement.

Many vets won't realize that their illness might be service related, notes Franco. But official recognition is key to get them proper screening and benefits. Last fall, Rep. Bishop managed to pass legislation limiting the military's freedom to burn waste and directing the Pentagon to do a study on the pits' health effects. Given that this may take years, Bishop is also calling for an Agent Orange-like registry of those at risk.

Meanwhile a DC-based law firm, Burke LLC (which has also pursued claims for Abu Ghraib torture victims and Iraqi civilians killed by Blackwater guards), has filed suit against Halliburton and KBR on behalf of about 300 injured veterans and their survivors; the firm estimates that some 100,000 people have been exposed. "These troops were more injured by the smoke and the toxins than by combat," says attorney Elizabeth Burke.

Staff Sergeant Nienajadlo died March 20, 2009, exactly 13 years from the day she enlisted. She left behind three children, ages 3, 8, and 10, and a husband who is also in the service. Before she fell ill, Nienajadlo confided to her mother that she was scared of serving in Iraq. But she worried about mortar attacks and roadside bombs—not the Army's own trash.

Rare Form of Lymphoma

When I was told I had a Rare Form of Lymphoma, I started wondering just how Rare it was; come to find out that by 1997 over 78,000 people who were in the Military or Civilian's who worked for the war effort; were diagnosed with it; so why is that so Rare?

Lymphoma normally takes years to get the full symptoms of it; so its not uncommon to get it 10 to 20 years after you where exposed to what ever gave it to you, so my thinking is that more and more vets will be getting it soon.

My research has lead me to believe that conventional treatment of chemotherapy causes more harm then good; Chelation therapy has a far better rate of success and is more beneficial to the patent; yet the VA will not pay for treatments or give them to you, since they believe this is Alternative Medical treatment. I was lucky to find a group that was willing to give me the treatment at the cost of the drugs, otherwise I would not have been able to afford it and would not be alive today.

Jeff Flesher

Venus of FL
Apr 03, 2009 22:29:12 PM

GW Exposure Illnesses

The phrase Gulf War Syndrome was created by the media, Not the DoD/VA medical staff or the troops/veterans.
Very few troops/veterans got to see Environmental Medicine, Travel Medicine, Industrial Hygiene, Travel Medicine doctors unless we paid for their services out of (personal) pocket. If the incorrect diagnostics is used, one will not find abnormal values!
In 1990-91 OSHA protections, standards were not in place for deployed troops. The studies show that vaccines during this period were of poor quality and some were listed as experimental given to U.S. troops.
If only 10% suffered from exposures during GW service, there would be how many sick from 600,000 ?
These 10% is what I call disposable GI`s. Your sons and daughters.
GW syndrome does not and never existed - GW Exposure Illnesses (at least 33 variants) still disables veterans 18 years later.
Army GW incapacitated vet

Gulf war syndrome
I agree 100%. I'm a marine who was vaccinated. I served in the theater of operation from 09/90 thru 04/91. I was discharged 12/93. Shortly later at the VA med center JP Boston I read about Gulf War Syndrome study. I had signed up for it. My blood blood was drawn, and tested. Weeks later the results were in. I had qualified for the study. At that time I agreed to participate. I was told the reason I qualified was that I had an infection in my blood called Mycoplasma infection. It was a double blind study. Neither me or the doctor knew I was on an antibiotic or a placebo. I took medication for 12 months not knowing what I was taking. Blood was drawn once again for a follow up. The results came back negative, I had no mycoplasma in my blood. I thought this was great, but then they told me I was on a placebo for 12 months. They said I had no symptoms of GWS. After that I let it go. Until recently (thanks to the internet) I have researched GWS/Mycoplasma infection. How could I have a mycoplasma infection in my blood, and 12 Months later after being on a placebo they say my blood work is good. I don`t understand how a placebo can take mycoplasma out of your system. I have researched on this, and have found articles where the CIA has submitted false information about Iraq, and chemical weapons during Desert storm. Trying to say GWS is from Iraq`s chemical weapons. Do the research for yourself it will not take long

Dr Blockbuster (Vince) of XX
Mar 30, 2009 13:07:32 PM

Gulf War Syndrome
I am done. the VA wants me to FKN die loading me up on up to 18 diff meds a day spinning me of from one "specialist" to the next never doing a damn thing, changed my Pri care 3 times in 5 month`s, lost my records -"deny deny deny until they die"- should be the new motto. Good luck out there all you vets your gonna need it. TM out...

The Gulf Conspiracy of Gulf War Syndrome

18 years later, what do we see - just more and more and more and MORE lab experiments on possible causes of Gulf War Syndrome.

Do the Gulf Vets care about this? - no! , what they want and DESERVE WITHOUT RESERVATION is recognition of their symptoms, the best treatment available, and recompense from the respective governments. Oh, and also, I should point out that these are sought as soon as possible and not in the year 2100 when only historians will be around to consider the facts.

No doubt the "flawed vaccinations" were a major (not sole) cause of GWS and it doesn't take a Philadelphia lawyer to work that out when you consider the negligible GWS effect on French troops who were not similarly vaccinated with the anthrax vaccine like the US and British forces. Strange also how troops vaccinated at home base at the end of the War developed symptoms though THEY NEVER WENT to the theater of operations.

Why pump all this money into research when the primary directive after 18 years is surely to treat symptoms as opposed to produce theorems. How are Gulf vets to feel reading about experiments like this ... cheered or "talked over" yet again.

Even this month, in the UK, Lord Craig of Radley (Marshal of the Royal Air Force), chief of the Defense Staff in the 1991 Gulf War, called on ministers to act “urgently” on important US findings about the debilitating illness.

If you wish you can read more FACTS and INFORMATION here:

Dr Blockbuster will continue to highlight the lack of closure on GWS after 18 years - HOW LONG MUST THIS NONSENSE CONTINUE?

Mar 28, 2009 08:35:50 AM

Are we gulf vets going to take this lying down? OR, are we going to do something about it ? REMEMBER our governments are now laughing at us behind closed doors now that they have had there dirty work done for them! and they really don`t care a toss about any health issues of anybody. They are only interested in how to dodge and avoid the issue! The evidence is their attitude over the last 18 years on the subject ! my faith in you is TOTAL,----- God bless.

Darin of MD
Mar 27, 2009 12:32:02 PM

Join the club....there are thousands of us. Kidney's failed and laundry list of probs. Fight the fight still.

Anne Wright of CA
Mar 25, 2009 23:24:07 PM

Cholinesterase inhibitor sensitivity

There are a number of genetic polymorphisms related to cholinesterase (BCHE and ACHE genes) that can make some people more susceptible to cholinesterase inhibitors than others.

Hermona Soreq and her colleagues have done the best work I have found on this. Chapter 4 of the book "Cholinesterases and Cholinesterase Inhibitors" By Ezio Giacobini covers this well (

At least some of these polymorphisms appear on the list of SNPs that places like 23andMe and deCODEme test for. I am very curious what it would show if the veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome were tested for the BCHE and ACHE related SNPs Dr. Soreq mentions, and how well those results would correlate with the findings of Dr. Haley's imaging studies.

Also, if you are prone to sensitivity to cholinesterase inhibitors, stress and past exposure to cholinesterase inhibitors apparently can make you more sensitive, even to small doses, in the future. There are cholinesterase inhibitors in the food we eat -- particularly nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, peppers, and eggplant), and pesticide residue on non-organic produce. I have found that trying very hard to avoid eating foods that contain cholinesterase inhibitors a lot of symptoms similar to those described above eventually improve or even go away. It can take a while, since these toxins can persist a long time (weeks to months), but it can help a lot.

I wonder if trying to modify their diets to reduce exposure to food-borne cholinesterase inhibitors might also help veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.

Chris Peterson of OK
Mar 25, 2009 15:20:32 PM

Gulf war

I am a 37yo veteran of the Gulf War. I served as a liaison for United States 142nd field artillery.I started suffering from headaches, sleeplessness, fatigue, rashes, oral ulcers, mood disturbances, GI problems, muscle stiffness and pain, burning semen, and other various unexplainable symptoms. Not knowing what was wrong with me or how to deal with it I self medicated with marijuana to deal with the chronic pain and sleeplessness. After a failed marriage and several jobs I rec'd a letter in 2000 from the secretary of defense. In his words "If you were with your unit from March 3rd - March 10th 1991 you may indeed have been exposed to low levels of chemical nerve agent for a brief period of no more than 3 days.There is no conclusive evidence to prove that any long term health effects can be caused by a brief low level exposure to chemical nerve agent." I decided to go to the VA. I thought I was going to receive help, understanding, or treatment to improve my quality of life, instead, I got a bunch of pills thrown at me the pills did not seem to work so they tried something else after several scripts none of which helped even a little I lost faith in the doctors.After expressing my dissatisfaction with the results to the Dr I was directed to mental health where more scripts were given after saying this drug is not working I was told to take twice as much of the medication. I`m currently 80% service connected (= to a house payment & electric bill) it took 5 years to get that if not for my wife I would have given up totally. the VA is not going to HELP YOU IN ANY WAY to get compensation. Ive been told this by the Dr. Instead they are there to discredit any evidence you might have to support your claim. Basically if you don`t have a good Dr. of your own who will point the finger toward your military service as causing your ailments your screwed. The DAV also misplaced several of my documents at key times (just before decisions) which caused another denial or two which prolonged my process by 2 years. the DAV also changed the wording on my claim 2years into the process which ultimately cost me 2 years of back pay. Its up to you totally to present your case in such a way they can not deny you. If you can prove you were there and have the evidence you need and the ailments they are willing to pay for you will get what should have been handed to you. I am not working, my last job (dealing cards at a casino part time) I cant do.Sitting in one position for extended period is very painful as is anything requiring strength. Sleeping is all but impossible without drugs. 2 months after returning from war I took a PT test my normal 11min 2 mile run took 15 min I had to walk the last 1/4 mile, just could not take in enough air overall my test score was down 25%. I live in Oklahoma and my claim was only successful after getting my senator involved.I would be happy to talk to anyone who was there if I can help I will. I`m ashamed of my country's use of service members

Michael Akullian of FL
Mar 25, 2009 06:07:43 AM

gulf war

I personally suffer chest pains headaches nausea gastro-intestinal shakes body pain involuntary multiple muscle twitching especially on left eye and side of face and body fatigue sleeplessness flue like symptoms respiratory and just generally physical and mental issues loss of memory mood and so on i suffer every day symptoms started one week after forced injections non FDA approved anthrax vaccine DEC 1990 Hahn AB Germany i got sick while in gulf war have combat medical record Jan 91. upon return may 91 ordered not to donate blood for contamination and gulf war illness and after ten year honorable air force career not allowed to finish my career or reenlist because of mandatory strength reduction and downsizing.after FDA shut down anthrax vaccine program at bio port Lansing Michigan I received letter from Miami VA hospital to participate in Persian gulf war registry program and got a physical and applied for benefits.produced Jan 91 combat medical record to VA st pete regional office but in my original denial they changed it to a may 95 VA hospital visit to discredit record also compensation doctors had policy to discredit gulf war illness and instead they diagnosed me with PTSD and i was on pain sleep and nerve meds for years and it almost killed me don`t take any now but this purpose driven medical agenda has made me worst off than before i tried to get help. St Pete regional board of VA appeals and us court of appeals have all denied me for benefits and one reason is because they say its pre existing or mental or my factual statements are of layman quality even though i was a respiratory tech and pharmacy tech for a home health care company.also retire Admiral Crowe got his buddy Clinton to restart anthrax vaccine program in 1997 after he purchased bio port for pennies on the dollar. crazy messed main stream Americans i wish i never got all those vaccines and pills and i wish i never served because most Americans and America are not worth the pain and illnesses i have on a daily basis for the last 18 years at least you would think i would get 100% compensation and back pay but the government would rather spend the money mis-diagnosing me and fighting me foe benefits. i have a new appeal at us court of appeals for veterans claims but don`t have much faith because that court is not part of VA and will not accept or change records or fix the purpose driven mistakes the denial boards and medical teams opinions have made over the years and at that court level its me verses the secretary of veterans affairs and his team of lawyers. tried many times to get help form my congress people in Florida but all they do is inquire status of my claim which i obviously already know. my career health and gainful lively hood have suffered and i consider myself damaged goods and thought it was best to post this reluctantly because it is humiliating and embarrassing but so is America.

Mar 25, 2009 00:13:16 AM


Alvin Pritchard was a Welsh Cavelry trooper during the 1st gulf war, and served with 1st THE QUEENS DRAGOON GUARDS. British army. He fought along side the 7th U.S. marine corps during op. desert shield. He now lives in Wales, U.K.

Gulf War Illnesses Debate Rages On for 18 Years: No End in Sight for the Sick

Thursday 19 March 2009
By Thomas D. Williams, truthout | Report


Barack Obama is now the fourth president facing the scientific and bureaucratic conundrum around the US-created ongoing wartime hazards producing disastrous health complications for soldiers and civilians.

Eighteen years after the six-week first Gulf War, maladies still haunt thousands of US and allied service members as well as estimated hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Afghan civilians. A myriad of scientists and government officials insist it is bewildering to pinpoint whether countless chemical and radiological hazards either killed or sickened hundreds of thousands of US service members, allied soldiers and Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Afghan civilians. Federal health officials have not only denied monetary and health assistance to thousands of veterans, whose illnesses they say cannot be linked to US created wartime hazards, but they have mostly failed to assist the Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Afghan civilian health system.

"Our war (the first Gulf War) was the most toxic as far as exposures ever in history," said Denise Nichols, a retired US Air Force registered nurse and veterans' advocate, who herself suffers from wartime illness. "How can parents or the American citizens trust their government or encourage their young to enlist when this history of neglect and denial of gulf war illness is allowed to fester … [the US Department of Veterans Affairs] has betrayed us. [The Department of Defense] has betrayed us. The government for 17 years betrayed the trust we as soldiers, airmen, marines, or sailors had, and our trust must be regained by [incoming President Barack Obama]."

Medical records show Melissa Sterry, 46, a New Haven, Connecticut, resident, who cleaned up radioactive depleted uranium dust in tanks during the Gulf War, has post-traumatic stress, chronic headaches, upper respiratory infections and repeating pneumonia. The former US Army specialist also has three types of irregular heartbeats, muscle fatigue and spasms, joint aches, chronic diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and blood in her urine and stool. More recently, she suffered through a double mastectomy for breast cancer. "I don't want to be disabled," Sterry said, reacting to her extended battle with Veterans Affairs (VA). "I want to get off it. I'm telling them, 'Fix me!"'

Unemployed since leaving the military, Sterry has, at times, had trouble dressing herself and paying for food and a roof over her head. Today, Sterry is increasingly upset because Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell defunded the first state law nationwide forcing the tracking of sicknesses in Gulf War veterans. It was Sterry who single-handedly lobbied it into being at the Connecticut State Legislature. Federal officials, she said, were totally ineffective in detecting and treating deadly health effects of everlasting radioactive depleted uranium dust spread for hundreds of miles in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Cover Ups of Wartime Hazards' Connections to Illnesses

On various occasions since 1991, veterans, Congressmen and government entities, including the US General Accountability Office (GAO), have accused federal agencies, committees, Congress and three past presidential administrations of either covering up, obfuscating or ignoring solutions to Gulf War Syndrome. Informed critics found scores of Pentagon and US Department of Veterans Affairs inquiries inadequate or worse. Initially, in the mid 1990s, Walter Reed Army Medical Center's officials tried to pin some of the blame for continuing illnesses on veterans' alleged psychiatric stress. That medical composite was ultimately discredited by scientific critics, in part because the war lasted only weeks, and more significantly, because the diagnosis was completely inappropriate for most veterans examined.

So, they were sent to war. They became physically ill. They went to the doctor. But, ultimately, despite being physically ill, physicians were telling them: "Your mind is imagining that you are sick." Back in 1996, George C. Vaughn, then 34, who said he was exposed to chemical warfare and a host of other war hazards, was given an Army disability for physical ailments that was later rescinded. At the time of his "mental" illness diagnosis, he said, "I feel like I have been stabbed in the back by my country. I feel like I don't trust the doctors at Walter Reed any more and I don't trust the whole process."

Frustration for ailing veterans unable to get federal health assistance has carried on through for thousands taken ill during the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Veterans For Common Sense recently said the VA figures show that: "The number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans receiving treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities sky-rocketed from 13,000 to over 400,000 in the last four years."

As medical claims mount, this month, the VA conceded to a US House of Representatives' subcommittee that scores of veterans' medical complaints and supporting documents at the VA offices in Detroit, Michigan, St. Louis, Missouri, Waco, Texas and St. Petersburg, Florida, were shredded before they could be evaluated. The VA inspector general's inquiry into the destroyed documents is ongoing. Michael Walcoff, a deputy VA under-secretary for benefits, called the actions "clearly unauthorized and inappropriate."

Meanwhile, little or no professional health assistance is being offered to untold numbers of seriously ill Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Afghan civilians, even as the wars in those countries continue to nauseate and/or kill tens of thousands more. In the first war alone, estimates of Iraqi deaths range from tens of thousands to more than one hundred thousand. In the meantime, during that first Persian Gulf War, untold hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis became afflicted from hazardous exposures or were wounded. Several small US organizations, frustrated by lack of federal support, have struggled to help Iraqi doctors and hospitals care for overwhelming legions of the sick civilians. Yet, former President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the US armed service members were duty bound to protect the Iraqi people.

Two Presidents, Father and Son, Say Iraqi People Are Paramount

"Our role is to help our friends in their own self defense… And let me make it clear that the United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. Our quarrel is with Iraq's dictator and with his aggression," said the senior President Bush, in a speech to Congress on September 11, 1990.

His son, former President George W. Bush, later insisted: "America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children."

Bush's promised benefits didn't bind for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis sick from wartime exposures. Prior to her death from leukemia in September 2004, Nuha Al Radi, an accomplished Iraqi artist and author of the "Baghdad Diaries" wrote: "Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying. How many more die in hospitals that one does not know? Apparently, over thirty percent of Iraqis have cancer, and there are lots of kids with leukemia."

Here's an outsider's reaction to the state of Iraqis' health as a consequence of the 18 years of US-Iraq conflicts. "When I visited Auschwitz I was horrified. And when I visited Iraq, I thought to myself, 'What will we tell the children in fifty years when they ask what we did when the people in Iraq were dying?'" asked Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, according to Citations de personnes eminente.

Last November, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) created glimmering hope for some war veterans. The committee's voluminous findings were among the first to pierce some alleged mysteries of chemical hazards causing Gulf War illnesses. But the report, like most all federally funded others, was targeted only to help sick US war veterans and their immediate families.

Dr. Lea Steele, the RAC's scientific director, said, "We are familiar with the types of information concerning health problems in Iraqi civilians after the Gulf War, and since the current Iraq War, some of which is referenced in the report. There are also reports of health problems among Kuwaitis after the Gulf War. Although not specifically addressed by the RAC, the health consequences of these wars on local civilians are a serious concern. We were disappointed to find that there have been no assessments of which of the many different environmental exposures and other wartime hardships may have caused and/or contributed to the difficult health situation in Iraq."

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for President Barrack Obama, said the impacts of Gulf War illnesses are a significant concern. But Shapiro deferred observations on all reporting questions to the VA. Shapiro did not comment on the past failures of federal authorities to assist foreign civilians sickened or killed by wartime illnesses.

Government statistics say 13,194 Gulf War, US military service veterans have died since the January 1991 to February 1991 conflict. Those same figures reveal the average age of service members going to the war was between 30 and 32 years old. Eighteen years later, or today, their average age would be 48 and over. That era and younger is normally too early for death to strike. And, now, one in every four of the 696,842 Gulf War service members is still ill, some terminally, said the VA.

Since contemporaneous US Army air, water or soil tests conducted throughout active battle zones were largely inconclusive, it is difficult to say exactly who was exposed to a given hazard at any particular point in time. But, later, in 2003, preliminary tests by the Uranium Medical Research Center showed that (their collected Iraqi) air, soil and water samples contained "hundreds to thousands of times" the normal levels of radiation (left by depleted uranium munition explosions), according to

"One of the Dirtiest Environmental Conflicts in History"

Clearly, substantial corroboration exists proving that hundreds of thousands of service members were exposed to smoke from the overwhelming oil well fires and constant wind-blown dust, containing multiple hazardous chemicals like nerve gas and radiation from exploding munitions. Gulf War I has been called one of the dirtiest environmental conflicts in history. Adding more risk to those dangers, there is no doubt service members were forced to take risky US drugs and vaccines supposedly aimed at protecting combatants from some of the predictable wartime contaminants.

The indicators of sickening or life-threatening exposures could be and have been reproduced. A multitude of eyewitnesses observed the daily smoke and dust, darkening the air. Many of the 100,000 in the vicinity knew or eventually discovered they were exposed to wartime nerve or mustard gases when the US military blew up Iraqi chemical bunkers in March 1991 near Khamisiyah, Iraq, or when wartime gas alarms sounded. (Yet, servicemen learned much later that their US gas masks and other protective equipment were proven to be inadequate.) And, finally, and undoubtedly, most service members inoculated or ordered to take anti-nerve agent pills and vaccines are themselves eyewitnesses to their adverse reactions to those forced controversial drug regimens. Unfortunately, many US military inoculation records have since mysteriously disappeared, eliminating corroborating evidence.

Despite overwhelming indicators of wartime hazards, "The Presidential Advisory Committee's (1997) final report concluded that many of the health concerns of Gulf War veterans may never be fully resolved because of a lack of data," as cited in GAO/NSIAD-97-136. The very same GAO report said: "according to the Department of Defense officials we interviewed, the Persian Gulf War medical records are widely recognized as incomplete and inaccurate in documenting all medical events for service members while deployed to the Persian Gulf." The report continued: "In researching the Persian Gulf War illnesses, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the (PAC) reported that inaccurate information on the location of service members in the theater presented problems in identifying exposures to various health threats."

In November, the RAC's 14-member panel of doctors, veterans and their advocates, like legions of others including the PAC, brushed aside some of the war's health threats with inconclusive findings. They did call for further inquiry, just like those countless others have since the early 1990s.

Almost immediately, the VA sent the committee's work on to be evaluated by still another well-known health organization, The Institute of Medicine (IOM). Yet, the IOM has consistently depreciated connections between veterans' sicknesses and most all of those same deadly wartime hazards. Indeed, the IOM is heavily criticized for inconclusive scientific findings in the RAC report itself.

IOM Did Not Link War's Hazardous Exposures to Vets' Illnesses

On January 23, two months after VA Secretary Dr. James B. Peake called for the evaluation, IOM President Dr. Harvey Fineberg answered it. Fineberg said the IOM agrees with the RAC that Gulf War veterans have "multi-symptom illnesses" at higher rates than those veterans not sent to the war. But, he explained, the IOM never linked the constantly sick veterans to specific exposures. That was in part, he said, because of the lack of scientific reliability of such conclusions, particularly the weakness of self-reported veterans' symptoms and exposures.

The Pentagon, unlike the RAC and many sick veterans and dozens of their advocates, apparently believes in the IOM's integrity. "There is no question that symptoms in 1990-91 Gulf War veterans are real and are deserving of care and treatment," said Michael E. Kilpatrick, director of Military Health Systems Strategic Communications. "All studies have shown that Gulf War veterans report nearly twice the rate of all symptoms compared to Service members who did not deploy. However, based on many research studies, IOM concluded that there are no unique symptoms or unique pattern of symptoms in Gulf War veterans."

However, five years ago, Vanity Fair's David Rose quoted Kilpatrick as saying that Gulf War veterans are no less healthy than soldiers who were stationed elsewhere. Kilpatrick, said Rose, dismissed a penetrating 2004 GAO Gulf War probe. The GAO then concluded that studies used by federal officials to show Gulf War veterans were no sicker than the veterans of other wars "may not be reliable" and had "inherent limitations." That GAO report was "just the opinion of a group of individuals," Kilpatrick told Rose.

Research Advisory Committee Hedges Some of Its Conclusions

Despite what it suggested is the uncertainty of health impacts of some of the other hazardous exposures, the RAC concluded that the most likely causes of thousands of Gulf War Syndrome illnesses were pesticides and the pills supplied the troops to allegedly protect them from warfare nerve gases. Low levels of those gases were fired by Iraqis. Others were released when the US blew up Iraqi chemical warfare storage at the Khamisiyah storage bunkers after the war, despite advance US intelligence of the dangers lurking there. The RAC additionally found that it could not rule out an association between Gulf War illnesses and soldiers' exposures to those low-level nerve agents, extended exposure to smoke from oil well fires, receipt of large numbers of vaccines and combinations of neurotoxic exposures.

The committee urged more scientific studies for the health impacts of the controversial anthrax vaccine and dangerous depleted munitions dust. Nevertheless, its members discounted some obvious scientific and other evidence, which pointed to the vaccine's and the dust's potential to make many of those exposed to them seriously ill. To the detriment of some service members, the report focused almost entirely on hazards causing Gulf War Syndrome and not other battle-time hazards leading to other individual illnesses unrelated to the syndrome.

Days after the RAC's report was received by the VA, its officials turned the results over to the IOM. Incidentally, Dr. Lynn Goldman of Chevy Chase, Maryland, vice chair of the IOM's Gulf War and Health Study, was a member of the RAC.

Asked about its own critique of the IOM, Steve R. Smithson, a spokesman for the RAC, said: "The referral of the report to IOM, in light of the evidence that VA has effectively compromised and manipulated previous IOM Gulf War reports, is a transparent effort to continue to delay and deny the need to deal with this important veterans' health problem … It should … have the previous IOM exposure reports redone, as recommended in the RAC report." He continued, "The VA inaccurately stated in its referral statement that the law requires referring Gulf War research to the IOM. In fact, the law in question only requires that the IOM prepare specific reports as to whether toxic substances to which troops were exposed can cause health problems...."

Stencel replied, "The Institute of Medicine follows a study process that has been used over many years by all the branches of the National Academy of Sciences. It yields hundreds of reports that are considered authoritative, reliable assessments of matters of science and technology … Study reports' findings and recommendations must be supported by and grounded in scientific evidence."

The VA's spokesman, Benson, said, "Caring for all veterans, including veterans who served in combat during the 1991 Gulf War, is VA's highest priority. With this in mind, VA requested that the IOM, as part of the current congressionally mandated Gulf War veteran health review, take a look at the new RAC report."

However, the VA called for the IOM's opinion on the RAC report despite saying: the IOM's series of reports have been "skewed and limited by a restrictive approach to the scientific tasks mandated by Congress, an approach directed by VA in commissioning the reports." In fact, the IOM had by then already concluded that evidence was insufficient to link depleted uranium munitions dust with Gulf War illnesses. And, it also found the anthrax vaccine not to be a factor in Gulf War illnesses. On the other hand, the RAC's report said more evidence is needed to prove that depleted uranium and the anthrax vaccine were factors in Gulf War illnesses.

Anthrax Vaccine and Depleted Uranium Dust Controversies

So, after closing on a nearly two decades of research and investigation, it appears to some veterans and their advocates that sick veterans may be back to where they started when looking for help in the early 1990s. And, yet, many of them believe evidence is overwhelming that both depleted uranium dust and the old anthrax vaccine created many of the Gulf War illnesses now suffered by veterans.

In the era of the 1991 Iraq war, the vaccine was manufactured by Michigan Biologic Products, a state-owned facility, regularly criticized for serious shortcomings during health and other inspections. On the one hand, the RAC's research rejected proof of a link between anthrax vaccinations of Gulf War veterans and their multiple illnesses. But, on the other, Dr. Meryl Nass, who has studied the vaccine extensively, said that the committee's own report cited conflicting data from nine studies of the vaccine. All nine studies found a relationship between receiving anthrax vaccine and developing symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, she said. "In eight of the nine studies, the relationship was statistically significant," Dr. Nass explained.

And, before the war, a Congressional investigation recommended against using the vaccine. During 1989 US Senate hearings about the military's readiness to combat biological warfare, then Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert B. Barker stated, "current vaccines, particularly the anthrax vaccine, do not readily lend themselves to use in mass troop immunization." He cited a higher-than-desirable rate of adverse reactions to the drug. An, he added, the vaccine "in some cases, (lacks) strong enough (effectiveness) against infection by the aerosol route of exposure." That is exactly the exposure for which the Pentagon then used it two years later for some 150,000 service members headed for the Gulf War. And yet, many question the need for the vaccine in light of the fact that the spores it supposedly protects service members from have never been used successfully by terrorists or enemies of the United States, or any country, for that matter. As far as the vaccine's health dangers are concerned, the RAC inquiry itself said, "The IOM report concluded that rates of acute adverse reactions to [the anthrax inoculations] appeared comparable to other vaccines … however, recently published studies indicate that [the anthrax vaccine] is associated with extremely high rates of acute, local reactions, higher than is typical of other vaccines."

Dr. Steele said, "We respect Dr. Nass and have reviewed her writings and comments over the years, including comments she has provided at RAC meetings. Our review of the evidence did indicate that the anthrax vaccine is associated with a high rate of acute, local reactions … But … there was limited evidence concerning long-term health effects of the vaccine, and little evidence supporting an association specifically with Gulf War illness."

"The fact that the vaccine in current use is associated with a high rate of short-term reactions, especially at the injection site, does not tell us about its potential to cause chronic illness like that affecting Gulf War veterans," said the doctor. "We actually did identify eight different studies in which an association between anthrax vaccine and chronic symptoms was assessed in five different groups of Gulf War veterans. As with most other Gulf War exposures, many of these studies appeared to show a significant association between symptoms and receipt of the anthrax vaccine, as Dr. Nass mentioned in her comments. However, the link between symptoms and anthrax vaccine was consistently weaker than for most other exposures."

As for depleted uranium, the RAC concluded it was not a long-term health threat. "Overall, these [numerous scientific and governmental] reviews have consistently found that available evidence indicates that DU exposures, at levels experienced by the majority of Gulf War veterans, are not expected to produce long-term health effects, specifically in relation to excess cancer rates and chronic renal disease," said the report.

But, Dr. Steele insisted nonetheless: "It is important, again, to be clear that the Committee's report did not address the question of whether or not DU poses a health threat of any kind. We found, rather, that the available evidence, of different types, does not support DU as a cause of Gulf War illness." She explained that more epidemiologic research is needed to link DU exposure with any other types of health problems in Gulf War veterans.

Depleted uranium dust blew widely over Iraq and Kuwait during both wars in Iraq from the myriad of US Army and British munition firings aimed at destroying tanks and other armored vehicles. The deadly dust hangs around for millions of years, and is incredibly expensive to clean up and dispose of. So, no one can know when the wind will blow the dust into the lungs, a drinking water supply or soil growing crops for animals and humans.

The US military first began plans to use depleted uranium munitions in the 1970s. They were manufactured as a cheap munition, profit-lucrative to producers, from radioactive waste products generated in the nuclear industry. Once fired, they destroy their targets with incredible fiery heat, creating a chemical, radiated dust, which can blow in the wind for many miles. If unknowing persons inhale, drink or ingest the dust, it stays in their bodies for many years. That creates the danger of cancers, kidney disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lou Gehrig's, Parkinson's, Hodgkin's diseases, and a number of other sicknesses, some scientific researchers say. When depleted uranium munitions are test fired in the US or Britain, the strict rules controlling cleanup are seldom followed.

"Veterans and civilians in these wars WERE exposed to DU, and this inhaled DU represents a seriously enhanced risk of damaged immune systems and fatal cancers." Rosalie Bertell, PhD, GNSH, told Abolition 2000, a Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.

Although denying Bertell's and many others' assessments that depleted uranium dust is a severe health hazard, the IOM last year concluded: "Military personnel have been exposed to depleted uranium as a result of friendly-fire incidents, cleanup and salvage operations, and proximity to burning depleted-uranium-containing tanks and ammunition. During the Gulf War, an estimated 134-164 people experienced ‘level I' exposure (the highest of three exposure categories as classified by the US Department of Defense) through wounds caused by depleted-uranium fragments, inhalation of airborne depleted-uranium particles, ingestion of depleted-uranium residues, or wound contamination by depleted-uranium residues. Hundreds or thousands more may have been exposed to lower exposure through inhalation of dust containing depleted-uranium particles and residue or ingestion from hand-to-mouth contact or contamination of clothing."

Neither the IOM nor the VA Research Advisory Committee reports detailed the potential of strong or even weak winds carrying DU dust for many miles and thus exposing more humans, animals, plants and soil to its radiation hazards. "The US Department of Defense has acknowledged that 320 tons of DU munitions were expended, whereas the nuclear research foundation LAKA, of Holland, estimates that the total amount of DU used in Iraq and Kuwait exceeded 800 tons," said Damacio A. Lopez, the executive director of the International DU Study Team. "The International Committee of Radiological Protection estimates that enough DU was used to cause 500,000 potential deaths, if it were inhaled."

Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, has called for further Congressional investigations, to pierce the US Department of Veterans Affairs' "questionable" relationship with the Institute of Medicine and both of their failures to properly investigate Gulf War illnesses. Sullivan said he wants "Congress to investigate the handful of top VA officials who blocked the scientific literature review into Gulf War illnesses … including both human and animal studies, to determine whether toxic exposures can cause health effects among our veterans deployed to Southwest Asia during 1990 and 1991. VA employees appear to have conspired with IOM staff to cook the books and eliminate consideration of critical animal research. Since most research on toxic substances is conducted in animals for ethical reasons, the result has been that the IOM committees have found no connections, and health-care and benefits for veterans remains very minimal."

Stencel said the IOM would not comment on Sullivan's statement. But VA spokesman Jim Benson said, "Overall, these congressionally-mandated IOM committee reports have found a broad spectrum of possible health effects associated with a range of potential Gulf War hazards, most of which have been well established in the existing occupational health literature. Their reports have not identified any new or unique illnesses among veterans of the 1991 Gulf War."

"These independent analyses of Gulf War veteran health issues," said Benson, "have been useful as an independent and scientifically highly credible evaluation of the nature and the causes of Gulf War veterans' health problems. [They] have been the basis for the [VA] Secretary's decision to establish presumptions of service connection for nine infectious diseases associated with service in the Gulf War region. That decision will be implemented through forthcoming rule-making procedures."

The Ghosts of Desert Storm

by Bob Koehler

Seventeen years and three wars later, the ghosts of Operation Desert Storm - the cancers, the chronic headaches and dizziness, the fibromyalgia, the ALS and so much more that have stalked returning vets, whose medical claims have been denied, ignored, relegated to the paper shredder - have just gotten a reality upgrade.

"The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time."

Thus concludes the 452-page report of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, presented last week to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake. Suddenly the government has several hundred thousand medical claims emanating from a few months in 1991 it has to start taking seriously - and that's the easy part.

The implications of the congressionally mandated advisory panel's report, chaired by James Binns, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a Vietnam vet, may not be easy to contain. In the name of sanity and the planet's future, I hope this report blows the hellish toxicity of modern warfare wide open and creates a legal wedge by which the forces of moral outrage can hold governments accountable for what they do . . . for what our own government is doing right now.

For 17 years, the VA maintained that the strange, debilitating, sometimes fatal symptoms the vets of Gulf War I - that quick little romp that routed Saddam's army and left America feeling so good about itself - began experiencing was, to the extent that it was anything at all (or anything that had to do with the war), a mental thing, PTSD-induced. Vets learned that fighting the war may have been nothing compared to fighting the VA for treatment and compensation. It was a struggle that thousands didn't survive.

The Binns report estimates that more than a quarter of the GIs deployed during Desert Storm, around 200,000 of them, are suffering in some way from Gulf War Syndrome, and identifies two primary causes: pyridostigmine bromide, an anti-nerve gas medication all troops in the Gulf were required to take, and highly concentrated, DEET-like insect-repellents that were extensively used.

But the neurotoxic hell that is modern war cannot be reduced to two problematic substances. Many of the troops - and, of course, millions of Iraqi and Kuwaiti civilians - were exposed to a wide array of toxic chemicals, which the report did not rule out as contributing factors. These include: the smoke from burning oil-well fires; fumes from poison gas dumps blown up by the Army; anthrax vaccines; and the extremely fine radioactive dust of exploded depleted uranium munitions, which may prove to be the deadliest of all the poisons modern war leaves in its wake.

What the report also exposes is the cynicism and denial of the U.S. war establishment, which, as we all know, disputed the toxicity of Agent Orange for 20 years before giving in, and which, it now turns out, suppressed evidence that substantiated Gulf War syndrome. Quoted in the report, according to Cox News Service, is Lt. Gen. Dale Vesser, acting special assistant to the secretary of defense for Gulf War illnesses, who said in 2001 that, while Saddam Hussein didn't poison U.S. troops, "It never dawned on us . . . that we may have done it to ourselves."

And M.J. Stephey of Time magazine wrote that the report "serves as a grim reminder that sometimes a soldier's greatest enemy is the government he or she is fighting for."

All of this is true, but the irresponsibility of the war establishment and the enabling media goes, I believe, deeper than the betrayal of our own troops. What are we doing to the world, not merely with our satanic weapons systems but with the unregulated toxic waste of war?

Consider, for instance, a recent story in Army Times about the open-air burn pits throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, where the military disposes of hundreds of tons of war-zone waste every day, including "unexploded ordnance; paints and solvents; and even . . . bloody bandages and amputated limbs." U.S. troops (and, of course, the locals) have almost no protection against the toxic fumes the pits produce. GIs report such symptoms as "stinging eyes, monster headaches, severe respiratory infections and 'plume crud' - prolonged hacking that produces blackened phlegm and sometimes blood."

No matter that the smoke contains "arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, sulfuric acid and dioxin, the cancer-causing main ingredient in the defoliant Agent Orange," the Pentagon insists that there's no long-term environmental impact. Yeah, right. Who here believes the soldiers in the war on terror aren't facing serious health problems because of such exposures? How long will we continue to tolerate our government's pattern of pathological denial?

Perhaps the Defense Department understands that if it ever begins taking responsibility - and conceding liability - for what it does, a moral and financial hemorrhaging will ensue that makes war itself impossible.

Panel finds widespread Gulf War illness

ANNE USHER/Cox News Service
Respond to this story

WASHINGTON - At least one in four U.S. veterans of the 1991 Gulf War suffers from a multi-symptom illness caused by exposure to toxic chemicals during the conflict, a congressionally mandated report being released Monday found.

For much of the past 17 years, government officials have maintained that these veterans -- more than 175,000 out of about 697,000 deployed -- are merely suffering the effects of wartime stress, even as more have come forward recently with severe ailments.

“The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that ’Gulf War illness’ is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time,” said the report, being released Monday by a panel of scientists and veterans. A copy was obtained by Cox Newspapers.

Gulf War illness is typically characterized by a combination of memory and concentration problems, persistent headaches, unexplained fatigue and widespread pain. It may also include chronic digestive problems, respiratory symptoms and skin rashes.

Two things the military provided to troops in large quantities to protect them -- pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide (PB), aimed at thwarting the effects of nerve gas -- are the most likely culprits, the panel found.

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, created by Congress in 2002, presented its 450-page report to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake on Monday. It said its report is the first to review the hundreds of U.S. and international studies on Gulf War vets since that have been conducted the mid-1990s.

In a 2004 draft report to Congress, the panel said that many Gulf veterans were suffering from neurological damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.

The new report goes further by pinpointing known causes and it criticizes past U.S. studies, which have cost more than $340 million, as “overly simplistic and compartmentalized.”

It recommends that the Department of Veterans Affairs order a re-do of past Gulf War and Health reports, calling them “skewed” because they did not include evaluations of toxic exposure studies in lab animals, as Congress had requested.

The panel examined such tests and noted that recent ones -- unethical to carry out on humans - have identified biological effects from Gulf War exposures that were previously unknown.

While it called some new VA and DOD programs promising, it noted that overall federal funding for Gulf War research has dropped sharply in recent years. Those studies that have been funded, it said, “have little or no relevance to the health of Gulf War veterans, and for research on stress and psychiatric illness.”

“Veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War had the distinction of serving their country in a military operation that was a tremendous success, achieved in short order. But many had the misfortune of developing lasting health consequences that were poorly understood and, for too long, denied or trivialized,” the committee’s report says.

The report also faults the Pentagon, saying it clearly recognized scientific evidence substantiating Gulf War illness in 2001 but did not acknowledge it publicly.

It said that Acting Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Gulf War illnesses Lt. Gen. Dale Vesser remarked that year that although Saddam Hussein didn’t use nuclear, biological, or chemical agents against coalition forces during the war -- an assertion still debated -- “It never dawned on us ././. that we may have done it to ourselves.”

“We know that at least 40,000 American troops may have been overexposed to pesticides,” Vesser said, adding that more than 250,000 American troops took the small, white PB pills. “Both of these substances may (be) consistent with the symptoms that some Gulf War veterans have.”

The panel is urging Congress to spend at least $60 million annually for Gulf War research. It notes that no effective treatments have yet been found.

The VA declined to comment until it has a chance to review the report.

The panel focused its research on comparing the brain and nervous system of healthy adults with those of sick Gulf War vets, as well as analyzing changes to the neuroendocrine and immune systems.

It found that in terms of brain function, exposure to pesticides and the PB pills hurts people’s memory, attention and mood. Some people, it notes, are genetically more susceptible to exposures than others.

About half of Gulf War personnel are believed to have taken PB tablets during deployment, with the greatest use among ground troops and those in forward positions.

Many veterans say they were forced to take the pills, which had not been approved by the FDA, and some said they immediately became sickened.

“Many of us got sick from the pills,” said retired Staff Sgt. Anthony Hardie, a Wisconsin native who was with a multinational unit that crossed from Saudi Arabia into Kuwait and then Iraq.

He said he was required to take them for several weeks and soon suffered from watery eyes and vision problems, diarrhea, muscle twitching and a runny nose. A fellow Special Forces officer, he said, lost about 20 pounds in short order. “All of us had concerns at the time.”

To ward off swarms of sand flies in Kuwait City and the eastern Saudi province of Dhahran, Hardie said trucks would come through at 3 a.m. and spray “clouds” of pesticides.

Fly strips that smelled toxic hung “everywhere,” especially near food. “The pesticide use was far and away (more) than what you’d see in daily life,” he said.

Several soldiers interviewed said they were ordered to dunk their uniforms in the pesticide DEET and to spray pesticide routinely on exposed skin and in their boots to ward off scorpions. Others wore pet flea collars around their ankles.

The federal panel added that it also could not rule out an association between Gulf War illness and the prolonged exposure to oil fires, as well as low-level exposures to nerve agents, injections of many vaccines and combinations of neurotoxic exposures.

Hardie, a panel member, is convinced that he was later exposed to the chemical warfare agent Lewisite in a freshly abandoned Iraqi bunker; he noted its signature strong geranium smell.

He said he and others in his unit who ran miles a day past burning oil wells later hacked up black chunks of mucus and what he says his doctors think were pieces of his lung tissue. He said civilian doctors have diagnosed him with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, dizziness, confusion, acid reflux disease and chronic sinusitis.

He was not among the 100,000 U.S. troops who were potentially exposed to low-levels of Sarin gas, a nerve agent, as a result of large-scale U.S. demolitions of Iraqi munitions near Khamisiyah, Iraq, in 1991.

Troops who were downwind from the demolitions have died from brain cancer at twice the rate of other Gulf War veterans, the report stated.

A panel member, Dr. Roberta White, chair of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health, found evidence last year linking low-level exposure to nerve gas among in Persian Gulf troops with lasting brain deficits.

The extent of the deficits - less brain “white matter” and reduced cognitive function -- corresponded to the extent of the exposure.

In addition, the panel said, Gulf War veterans have significantly higher rates of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than other veterans.

White said that while there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of Gulf War vets contracting multiple sclerosis (MS), studies haven’t confirmed a combat link to that degenerative disease. Questions also remain about rates of cancers, disease-specific mortality rates in Gulf War veterans and the health of veterans’ children.

Conversely, the panel said there is little evidence supporting an association or major link with depleted uranium, anthrax vaccine, fuels, solvents, sand and particulates, infectious diseases, and chemical agent resistant coating (CARC).

The fact that veterans repeatedly still find that their complaints are met with cynicism, she said, “upsets me as a scientist, as someone who cares about veterans.”

Hardie said the Gulf War veterans have felt profound frustration that the health community as a whole has only been treating affected veterans’ symptoms.

“If you have MS - ’here’s some Motrin.’ How long can you take nasal steroids without getting at root cause -- the brain damage?” he said. “The sad thing is scientists are saying in more precise terms what veterans were saying all along: We are sick, sickened by Gulf War service, and we need health care to help us.”

The Gulf War Mystery

By Paul M. Rodriguez

A retired Army general officially denies implications of tests showing antibodies for synthetic squalene in blood of hundreds of sick gulf war veterans. But he admits recent experiments with a suspect adjuvant.

Since Insight first reported that preliminary laboratory tests on a representative sample of Persian Gulf War soldiers found high numbers of antibodies for a synthetic polymer called squalene (see "Sickness and Secrecy," Aug. 25), the calls, letters and E-mails that have poured in have run the gamut from cheers to so-what’s to nothing but bunk and junk.

. . The gist of such communications thus far has centered on conjecture that gulf-war soldiers were inoculated with "cocktails" of immunizations that may have produced unwanted or negative reactions either singly or with such variables as exposure to chemical/biological agents, environmental contaminants, oil-fire pollution or a combination of all of these, to name but a few theories.

At the center of virtually all the comments we received were questions about how squalene could be an issue worth exploring as a possible clue to gulf-war syndrome, or Persian Gulf illness, given that squalene occurs naturally in the human body and often is used in health foods and cosmetics. Readers also asked why we emphasized a "discovery" of synthetic squalene as opposed to natural squalene: If they aren't the same, shouldn't they be?

We begin this week's report much as we began and ended the initial report two weeks ago -- that is, with no ready answers and more mystery.

In an Aug. 13 press conference at the Department of Defense, or DoD, to announce the latest studies into four cases of suspected chemical-warfare exposure of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf War region, retired Army Lt. Gen. Dale Vesser gave the first -- and thus far only -- official government response to the Insight story. Vesser, who works for the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Persian Gulf illnesses, emphatically told reporters that only alum was used as an adjuvant in immunizations administered to soldiers during the war.

Vesser also said the theory of use of an adjuvant other than alum was explored by the military two years ago and was dismissed because 1) nothing but alum was used, and 2) no such sickness as adjuvants' disease exists. This latter point deals with a theory that adjuvants can cause unwanted immune responses in humans.

Vesser then went on to state that while immunization records and other medical documents are missing, they do not total upward of 700,000, as some sources claimed. About the issue of synthetic squalene antibodies, Vesser declared:

"I can say, categorically, that squalene was not an adjuvant that was in any of the vaccines that were used by the Department of Defense at the time.... The department has never used anything but FDA-approved [adjuvants] to its vaccines. And that was what the troops got. They got U.S. vaccine."
Vesser then dropped this item:

. . "I've been told that recently there's been a small use of squalene as an adjuvant in some anti-malarial vaccine that some 50 test volunteers have been exposed to, [but] that this vaccine has never been used [during the war]. None of this happened at the time of the gulf war. That is recent. That's all I can say on the subject."

. This assertion that squalene has been used as an adjuvant in experimental tests on humans was not picked up by the press even though it was issued by a senior DoD official and previously was unrevealed information -- the use of squalene and the use of human "volunteers" for military experiments with immunization programs, antimalarial or otherwise.

Despite repeated requests to Vesser and others at DoD, the government has refused to divulge any other information on squalene uses or experimental immunization programs and what types of volunteers (and how many) have been used over the years.

Which brings the story back to some basic questions the Defense Department has been stonewalling. For example, although a synthetic version of a compound should be just about identical to the original, say pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical experts contacted by Insight, sometimes a twist or a turn or an added sequence or element appears in the synthetic version that doesn't appear in the original. This seems to be the case with synthetic squalene: Antibodies found in blood samples of Persian Gulf War veterans -- those who served overseas and those who never left the United States -- match only with a synthetic version and not with naturally produced squalene.

Why? Insight doesn't know but is trying to find out through molecular and microbiological tests, as well as interviews with makers of the synthetic versions of squalene. To date, the manufacturers have declined to provide information because of claimed proprietary interests.

That said, could the tests employed to detect synthetic squalene be faulty or otherwise render false-positive readings for a substance that occurs naturally in humans but, for whatever reason, suddenly has become "foreign" enough in the body to spur antibody development? Insight also is in the process of testing the assays -- yet again -- to determine whether the laboratory tests are faulty and to identify any other indicators that may give clues about why antibodies for synthetic squalene are showing up in the blood of veterans stricken with gulf-war syndrome.

Pending such reevaluations and additional information, what is the significance of the initial laboratory tests that detected those antibodies? We don't yet know and neither do the scientists involved in the testing. Speculation, assuming the testing assays remain correct, is that the compound was used as an adjuvant in an inoculation given to soldiers before, during and/or immediately after the Persian Gulf War. Given that the military has denied using any adjuvant except alum, how else could synthetic squalene antibodies have developed in the bloodstreams of soldiers, especially those who are the most ill?

When Insight raised the issue and reported the preliminary test results, which were derived from approximately 450 blood samples taken from a representative cross-section of soldiers involved or called into action for the Persian Gulf War, we expressed bafflement about finding something that 1) should not be there, that 2) the government said it never put there and 3) that generated antibodies to a product that is not approved for use in humans for anything but the most carefully monitored experimentation.

Insight also stated that despite repeated attempts to get government assistance to explain, knock down or confirm the preliminary test results, the military establishment declined assistance. Moreover, the military brass formally denied it had ever used squalene in any way, shape or form.

Although we were able to clear several layers of smokescreen put up by government officials concerning the uses of squalene as an experimental adjuvant in tests run out of the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed Institute, we were not able to get anyone in the military to state on the record who, what, when, where, why and how they used artificial squalene. The only available information comes from medical journals and military and civilian doctors who have confirmed some of the experimental uses of the synthetic squalene as an adjuvant in research for such diseases as HIV and herpes.

Prior to publishing the first story, Insight supplied information about early test results -- and subsequently draft galleys of the story -- to officials at the Defense Department, Veterans Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. All were asked for input and to consider running their own tests to determine whether "official" research would reproduce the discovery of antibodies to the synthetic squalene in the sick veterans.

In all situations, the departments and the various agencies not only declined Insight's overtures but threw up walls of silence immediately upon receiving the materials. Prior to this, many officials in these departments and agencies had cooperated or engaged in discussions of possible causes for gulf-war syndrome.

The only exception to the official no comment/no response attitude was Timothy Gerrity, a director for health services at the Veterans Administration, who said he would be surprised if the antibody tests were positive but, if they were, he would pursue the matter. And vigorously.

Whereas prior to publication officials in Washington were willing and eager to speak, such willingness halted after the preliminary test results began to come in. Why? And why has the stonewalling continued since publication of the first story, except for the now-and-again mantra that "we never used it" and therefore it can't be there -- as in Vesser's comments?

The search for answers to the mystery of gulf-war syndrome continues. Many analysts believe the answer will involve chemical-weapons exposure in some fashion -- but everyone outside official circles is taking care to say they are guessing. One reason is that so many records are missing. To their credit, the House and Senate veterans committees plan hearings about this for early fall, and the General Accounting Office is continuing to probe.

Part of these reviews will include questions first raised by Insight linked to the synthetic squalene lab results. Meanwhile: How did something that shouldn't be in those sick soldiers get there if, as the government says, it never was used?

Research indicates that Gulf War Vets have Brain Damage

By Ed Timms and Sue Goetinck
The Dallas Morning News
December 1st 1999

Ailing Persian Gulf War veterans suffered brain damage that researchers believe was caused by exposure to chemicals, according to a study made public Tuesday.

A sophisticated medical test found abnormally low levels of a brain chemical in a test group of veterans who, since the 1991 conflict, have experienced a variety of mysterious symptoms, including fatigue, memory loss, sleeping disorders and chronic diarrhea. Low levels of the chemical are a well-established indicator of brain injury.

Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas conducted the research and presented their findings on Tuesday at the 85th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

"We've now shown definitively that the Gulf War syndrome is due to a brain injury," said Dr. Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology at UT Southwestern and the lead researcher in a long-running examination of ailing Gulf War vets. "It's not a psychological problem due to stress. This gives us a powerful tool for a diagnostic test to determine who has this and who doesn't."

Dr. Haley added that he's optimistic that a treatment can be developed.

"We hope that announcement of these findings will inspire a lot of other researchers out there to see if we can cure this thing," he said. "The most frustrating thing to me is that we've not tried treatments."

Dr. Haley also suggested that the medical test could be used to help ailing vets receive service-connected health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many veterans have fought a long battle to get government officials to even acknowledge that they're sick. Some have accused the VA of failing to provide adequate treatment.

"I hope . . . that this will turn the tide, so people will say, 'Yes, there is something actually wrong - and the political repercussions be damned,' " said Charles Townsend, 49, an Army veteran of the Gulf War. "Maybe America will do something right."

Couldn't hold a job

After returning from the Persian Gulf, Mr. Townsend, a Dallas resident, said he had difficulty holding a job because of his symptoms. At one point, he lived in his truck. He obtained a disability pension from the VA earlier this year.

"We've still got guys who've never been able to collect a penny," said Jerry Jones, 57, of Leicester, N.C., another ailing vet who served in the Persian Gulf with the Navy's 24th Naval Mobile Construction Battalion. "Some have lost their homes. Some have had to move back in with their parents . . . . They've lost their businesses."

Mr. Jones, who also served in Vietnam, had attained the rank of senior chief petty officer, one of the highest non-commissioned ranks in the Navy, by the time he was sent to the Persian Gulf. When he returned, ailing, he had to retire from his state job as a mechanic eight years early and lost two-thirds of his retirement. Between medical costs and lost income, he estimates his own financial loss at between $250,000 and $500,000.

He said his attitude about the government and the military "has changed drastically" because of his experience.

"When I first went to Vietnam, I was told that if anything happens to you, we'll take care of you," he said. "That's an illusion."

Defense Department officials have said that they are aggressively trying to explain why Gulf War vets are sick but acknowledge that mistakes were made in the past.

Pentagon's quest

At a Tuesday news conference, Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department has "invested a commitment of time and effort and $133 million to fund 145 ongoing research projects to try to come up with an answer or a partial answer . . . on Gulf War illness."

"So we very much look forward to receiving Dr. Haley's work, taking a much closer look - and I hope he's right."

Rear Adm. Quigley also cautioned that "there are many steps to go here" and that he would like to see a peer review in a professional journal.

Dr. Haley said the research is under review at a major medical journal that focuses on radiology.

The radiology study received funding from the Defense Department and the Perot Foundation of Dallas. A total of 22 ailing veterans and 18 healthy subjects were subjected to magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which uses radio waves in a strong magnetic field to measure chemicals in the body.

The veterans who complained of illness had up to 25 percent lower levels of the brain chemical NAA (N-Acetyl-Aspartate) in the brain stem, which controls some reflexes, and in the basal ganglia, which control some functions of movement, memory and emotion.

"Some of these patients are profoundly disabled. There are stories of some real heroes who now barely are able to drive to the store," said Dr. James L. Fleckenstein, a UT Southwestern professor of radiology who presented the findings at Tuesday's meeting. "Although the existence of Gulf War syndrome is considered controversial, this is evidence supporting a physical mechanism for the problem."

Radiologists did not know whether the patients they were testing were healthy or sick.

Treatment hopes

Other medical scanners, such as standard magnetic resonance imaging, had not detected changes in the brains of ailing Gulf War vets. Dr. Haley said that indicates the brain cells "are still there in the brain but are injured," which gives him hope that some kind of medication can be found that will help the veterans with their symptoms.

"It's time to stop debating whether there's a Gulf War syndrome," he said. "These findings show that there's a Gulf War disease, which needs to be treated."

He plans to begin a larger study next year. There's some urgency, he said, because the health of some veterans is worsening.

The findings made public Tuesday are the latest in a series of advances by UT Southwestern scientists who are studying ailing Gulf War veterans.

One earlier study concluded that veterans born with low levels of an enzyme that destroys chemical toxins were more likely to suffer brain damage from exposure to low levels of nerve agents and pesticides, explaining why some service members exposed to chemicals became ill and others did not.

Another determined that Gulf War vets used or were exposed to chemicals and medications that were not necessarily harmful apart but that could be toxic if combined. Those included pyridostigmine bromide, a drug administered to service members in the hope that it would help them survive a nerve gas attack, low levels of chemical nerve gas, the insecticide DEET and pesticides.

A look at the Veterans and the Issues Surrounding American

and Allied Veterans of The Gulf War
Gulf War Illness (Part 1 of 2) 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

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: E-mail:

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:

1. American Gulf War Veterans Association
2. National Gulf War Resource Center:
3. Desert Storm . com:
4. New Hampshire Gulf War Syndrome Association:
5. The Reigle Report: What veterans have been exposed to and a look at the U.S. government's involvement:

A few personal looks at this issue:

Tom Colosimo:
Candy Lovett:

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:
Anthrax Vaccine Home Page:

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.

The Issues:

I. Exposures

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
3. Pesticides/insecticides
4. Chemical agent resistant coating (CARC)Paint

F. Indigenous diseases

1. Leishmaniasis
2. Brucellosis
3. Cholera

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.
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.

For 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: or call: (800) 497-6261


According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as of March 1st 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.

The Veterans:


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

Robert and Sheila

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.

Art Tinker

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 to send your important message to your elected officials. 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:

Art Hickey
October 13th 2001

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 and 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 life.

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.

Sgt Hickey
May 14th 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 and very disappointed citizen
Freda and Lyle

To Whom It May Concern,

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 bothMy 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, hich 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)
Robert D. Smith

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 o f 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 did not 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. 1989-93.

Pamela's Husband
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"
Michelle and Brian

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.

Mark A.Tink

Sorry it took me some time. I hope this helps. Please read it and correct it if it needs it.

Mark A

To all who care

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:

Non-veteran spouse
Roger Webb, age 48
Married veteran in May 1993

In May 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
7.) Nerve 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 unconscious body.

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 environmental factors.

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 War.

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 century.

The public needs to be fully alert and ever watchful, not comfortable and hypnotized as it was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.


I returned 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.

(I did not tell everything, cause I did not want to depress you).
Always ready
Always first
Mortar man

Gulf War's Dirtiest Secret

Scottsdale Tribune
September 26th 1999
Barry Forbes Columnist

They suffer excruciating muscle and joint pain, debilitating headaches, chronic fatigue. They experience memory loss and blackouts lasting minutes or even hours, regaining full consciousness miles away from a fading, fleeting memory. They undergo terrifying tremors and sudden seizures, falling uncontrollably, bruising and bleeding, time and again.

Some are in wheelchairs. Some are dead. Others wish they were.
Gulf War syndrome is hell. There's simply no other word to describe it. It's not at all what "peacekeepers" imagined when they volunteered to serve their country.

To date, around 40,000 Gulf War veterans have registered with the Department of Defenses' Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program. Veterans Affairs says that's not nearly enough: Add another 70,000 victims to the total misery list.

What causes Gulf War Syndrome? After conducting well over 100 studies and spending in excess of $100 million, the government says it simply doesn't know.

But in June 1996, the Department of Defense released a blockbuster scenario. It claimed that back in March 1991, the U.S. destroyed a large cache of chemical munitions at the Khamisiya depot in Iraq. The Defense Department and the CIA released computer-generated images of a wafting, toxic plume enveloping and possibly contaminating 100,000 troops. Voila--Gulf War Syndrome.

The public swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker, but it turned out to be pure, unadulterated spin. One, the symptoms of Gulf War syndrome isn’t even remotely close to the effects of chemical weapons. And two, many of those suffering from the syndrome hadn't been deployed in the Gulf.

In fact, some had never even left American shores.

What about Persian Gulf locals? There isn't a single reported case of Gulf War syndrome among the Kuwaitis, Egyptians or Israelis.

So what did America's troops--and those of Canada and Great Britain--do to earn this dubious, debilitating distinction? A growing number of medical experts believe it was nothing more than rolling up their collective sleeves for the anthrax shot. (or shots to "protect" them against a possible biological attack, some received multiple inoculations.)

The world's sole supplier of anthrax vaccine is Michigan Biologic Products Institute (MBPI) of Lansing, Michigan. The "institute" has been under intense scrutiny since February 1998, when FDA inspectors visited the plant and cited it for two-dozen infractions. There were serious lapses in manufacturing and quality control. Several batches of the vaccine failed the potency test. Some had expired: many were improperly re-dated. Manufacturing line areas were filthy. Production was halted for several months.

Critics went ballistic. The government responded by kicking in a couple million bucks-of our money-to spruce up the facility. But the same, highly questionable vaccine continues to be foisted upon unsuspecting troops.

The Gulf War Veterans Association has declared war on anthrax immunizations. The vets point to sky-high casualty numbers incorporating myriad systemic reactions. They talk about terrible autoimmune diseases that are not easily diagnosed or treated. They quote Lt. General Ronald Blanck, commanding officer of Walter Reed Army Medical Center: Anthrax vaccine should continue to be considered as a potential cause for undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf personnel...

Attorney Mark Zaid represented the non-profit Veterans for Integrity in Government. He litigated a Freedom of Information act against the government. Among his discoveries: The first large-scale use of anthrax vaccine was the 150,000 servicemen inoculated during the Gulf War. Worse, despite government and manufacturer safety assertions to the contrary, long-term safety studies have yet to be undertaken. (Ironically, the stuff is so potent it's almost impossible to test on human beings.)

That doesn't seem to faze the military establishment. Last year, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen approved implementation of a military-wide anthrax immunization plan-a total of six shots over 18 months plus annual boosters.
A handful of armed forces personnel has declined the vaccine. Those who refuse the madness, endanger their careers and face confinement, forfeiture of pay, even dishonorable discharge. It's already happened.

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Congress is considering two bills (HR2548 and HR2543) to end the forced implementation of anthrax vaccine. It's voluntary in all other countries, including our coalition partners. It should be voluntary here in America.

Military service is already a sacrifice. No one signed up to be a sacrificial lamb.

Epilog: Last September, MBPI was purchased by BioPort Corp., a company partially controlled by retired Adm. William Crowe. BioPort immediately won a two-year, $29 million Pentagon contract to make anthrax vaccine for U.S. military personnel. Translation: unless Congress acts, don't look for any sudden sea change in the status quo...

Barry Forbes can be reached at:
Advertisers help to support this Website.
Thanks for your Support.