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Congressional Hearings

Anthrax Vaccination Immunization Program

House Government Reform and

Oversight Committee

Chairman Shays Presiding

29 April 1999

Written Statement by:

David J.Churchill

Mr. Chairman and Sub-committee members thank you for allowing me to testify today. I am here today under my first amendment right and this testimony does not reflect anything against the United States Air Force or the Michigan Air National Guard. I work for the Michigan Air National Guard as a Civil Service Technician (CST), I am a Technical Sergeant for the Air National Guard and have also served on Active duty my first three years of service. I have served in the United States Air Force in some capacity for seventeen years this December. I have volunteered for numerous trips. I went to support Southern Watch both in 1994 and 1996 and I was selected for a trip to Qatar last November to perform maintenance on vehicles that had been left there from Desert Storm and Desert Shield operations. As a prerequisite for this Qatar trip, several other CST and I (including my backup, TSG Groll) were required to receive several Anthrax vaccinations. The same vaccination which brings me here today, to testify about. I held no reservations about these injections as I have received many other injections during the span of my career. I would now like to testify before you about the medical complications that I have experienced. Complications that I believe are directly attributed to the anthrax vaccination that I received. My testimony will also include experiences reported to me by individuals in my unit who have experience in seeking both a determination of the cause of our illness and treatment for that illness. Mr. Chairman and Sub-committee members, we have no full time medical doctors at our unit. This being the case, we have had to turn the civilian medical community.

 

14 March 1999

After receiving my fourth injection on March 14th I noticed the following symptoms. I study karate, am an avid speed walker, and do numerous other activities to stay in shape. However, I have noticed since I’ve began these injections, I can no longer do karate, as I have no stamina. I went to class three weeks ago, and just thought I was out of shape. I spent the next two days trying to recuperate from a 2-hour karate class. When sitting for a period of time, then standing, my legs ache, my joints in my hips, knees and ankles crack and snap. Sometimes the ones in my feet hurt so badly when they crack, it nearly brings me to the ground. I’ve got a pain in my lower back, which comes and goes. I’ve found blisters inside my mouth. The last one, I wasn’t sure what it was, so I pinched it with my fingers, and it filled my hand with blood. I have little red bumps all over my body, mostly concentrating on my torso. My skin will turn red and hot at any time, but then I will get chills. My hands and feet sweat excessively, and I have a tightness in my chest that comes and goes. My hands have little bumps just under the skin. The skin around my fingers is peeling off. I have been having sinus trouble with a lot of drainage in the mornings, sometimes with blood like mixture. I have and continue to experience memory loss, irritability, and shortness of attention span and abdominal cramping. I am not tolerable of the cold weather. My hands and fingers hurt extremely when they are cold. I have also found that my skin sun burns now under very little exposure.

 

17 March

At a memorial service with the Honor Guard for a fallen service member, watching TSG Groll start shaking so badly during the service, I really didn’t know if she was going to make it. We had attributed it to not eating properly or some kind of flu.

 

27 March

We have received a medical questionnaire from Dr. Meryl Nass and it raised concerns. I was told from Dr. Nass about the Vaccination Adverse Events Reaction System (VAERS) forms on the Internet. She suggested that I fill it out immediately and fax in to the Center of Disease Control (CDC). Those of us with medical questions talked about the questionnaire from Dr. Nass. We then found that there were like symptoms of rashes, headaches, body aches, flu like symptoms, sweating excessively, uncontrollable shakes, and blood in the urine. I then scheduled myself for an appointment to find out if these things I was feeling could have anything to do with the fourth injection.

 

29 March

I went to my physician for an answer to my symptoms. In my description of the things that were happening to me I made reference to most of these things had started after taking the Anthrax Vaccination series. The doctor asked why I was getting Anthrax shots and I told them it was mandatory for the part of the world that I had just returned from. The doctor’s words were "It’s not Anthrax, you’d be incapacitated, and on the floor. We know nothing about this vaccine, the military gave you the shot, the military needs to find out what’s wrong with you".

 

30 March

Had a meeting with Maj. Dvorak, our Logistics Squadron Commander, to take down information to research possibilities of a Line of Duty (LOD) order, medical attention and gathering facts for individuals having reactions to the vaccination.

 

31 March

Had another meeting with Maj. Dvorak. We were told that it would be impossible for LOD’s without physician’s recommendation, and that the concerns of the lot numbers and dates were addressed as administrative errors. The shot records would be collected, and that the "right information" would be annotated on the shot records. Along with the shot records a major concern was that those individuals that were being treated by civilian doctors would have to sign medical release forms for the clinic. With no concern of personal health being taken. Following the chain of command, SSG Martin and myself addressed our concerns with Lt. Col. Allen, or Logistics Group commander. He mentioned that some of the information he had no knowledge of, and would address these issues with Col. Heaton. Later that afternoon, I called Col. Allen, and was told that all issues were being addressed, and that Maj. Dvorak had told him everything was being handled as far as the shot records to be corrected of the "administrative errors". Col. Allen further stated that Maj. Dvorak would be handling all concerns of this situation, as she had all the information, and to keep in contact with her. I was stunned at what I was being told. I decided to become proactive and started calling as many people as I could to see who would be interested in helping us. I could not believe this many people were sick with no concern being displayed to their well being, other than fixing administrative errors.

 

3:00 p.m.

Sent email to Sen. Carl Levin and House rep Nick Smith with concerns of individual health and care.

 

4:00 p.m.

Called Col. Seidel, our vice wing commander, to set up meeting with intentions to file a Medical Inspector General complaint on lack of medical treatment for the personnel on base.

 

5:00 p.m.

TSG Groll and I met with Col. Seidel discussed the following issues, #1. People (health) #2. Clinic #3. Commanders

 

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Phoned most all the individuals with the outcome of the meeting with Col. Seidel to see if they were interested in medical treatment if or when it becomes available.

 

1 April

Sent names to Col. Seidel of those interested in medical treatment. Two people had reservations or hesitation because of reprisal or retaliation. I was told that Col. Heaton, our wing commander, was notified and that he recommended that all individuals that had received the forth injection would be scheduled to see the doctors at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. An information team was built to research all sources on the probability of these individuals getting to Wright Patterson.

 

2 April

Meeting with Col. Seidel, Maj. Kowalski, the financial comptroller, Maj. Dvorak, Cpt. Neidergall, the base JAG, SMS Keller, the Senior Health Technician and TSG Moross, public health technician. We were told that all angles being worked. The only way for us to receive treatment would be in a non-pay military status. All this is on tape.

 

4:30 p.m.

Phoned Col. Seidel back with concern that there was no more that "we" or "I" could do to help this situation. Col. Seidel then told me about a Col. Garrimone who had called and left a message to return his call, Col. Seidel was not sure who he was. Col. Seidel was going to call him and see if he had new information.

 

5:05 p.m.

Col. Seidel phoned back stating that Col. Garrimone was the head Allergist at Wright Patterson. The concern was that we get there ASAP not the 23rd. They had talked about Neurology work, blood tests and more. Possibly getting the entire group in on the 13th April. More to follow, I then exchanged phone numbers with Col. Seidel in case we needed to reach anyone, to include TSG Groll and SSG Martin.

 

6 April

Information had changed now four individuals Martin, Groll, Stewart, and myself would be going to Wright Patterson Air Force Base on the 7th to see the allergist. We were going to be driven to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, so that we didn’t have to drive over the eight-hour day permitted to travel. Orders would be made out for the 7th and 8th. I was told by Maj. Dvorak that in order to receive the per diem for the trip to make sure it took at least the 12 hours on that day, and that we would be coming home the same day. Travel would be in military clothing on a non-pay status. To make sure that we turned in a copy of the VAERS form to the clinic before we left so they could input it in the MIT’S system. Talked to Maj. Dvorak about the pay status and she was very short with me and said that we were told that we would be in a non-pay status. I mentioned to her that I had spoke to the civilian pay technician and there were some differences in what we were being told.

 

7 April

I turned over my VAERS form to the medical technician before leaving for Wright Patterson Air Force Base also signed out our medical records. We then packed into a military van for the five-hour drive to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. When we arrived we checked into the Allergy department. TSG Groll and SMS Stewart’s appointment were first at 1:00 p.m. SSG Martin’s appointment was for 2:00 p.m., and mine was for 3:00 p.m. SMS Stewart then came out and they called SSG Martin in. SMS Stewart told me while I waiting to go in that his checkup was nothing. They had ordered no blood tests, did not perform a urinalysis, and no x-rays. He also stated the allergist had shown very little concern. SSG Martin and TSG Groll had came out, and they were taking TSG Groll to the neurology clinic to do tests on her. I was then called in. The doctor looked over my VAERS and took down my symptoms. He then checked me out pretty thoroughly, and asked me if I had been near any animals in Qatar. He then told me he was going to order my blood drawn, a urinalysis, and a chest x-ray. When I completed all my test requirements, I came back to find TSG Groll crying in the chair, she stated that she was in severe pain. I asked SSG Martin what was going on, and she told me that it seemed that the neurological work could not be done on TSG Groll until the next morning. They also wanted blood work and urinalysis done as well. They had been in contact with the base since 2:00 p.m., but during this time frame, our wing and vice wing commander were out flying, and the person left in charge could not make a decision on whether we could stay the night, or come home. Funding seemed to play a big part in this inability to make a decision. In talking to TSG Groll and the medical personnel at Battle Creek, they wanted us to take her downtown to a hotel because base billeting was not available. Other than making an appointment, our base clinic never made any plans for anything longer than a one-day trip. We had no transportation for TSG Groll and were not going to leave her stranded for two days until the next group of people came down. I then went to discuss this with Col. Garrimone who said he was not happy with our unit, because they had taken almost four hours, and still had made no decision. I then informed Col. Garrimone of the later trips that we had on Friday and the following Tuesday. I then asked if it was possible that she be allowed to make an appointment on one of those days and return back down to complete these other medical appointments. Col. Garrimone got on the phone with Col. Seidel and stated Robin was coming home with us, and that the base needed to make further arrangements to have more tests completed. Col. Garrimone put TSG Groll on a physical profile citing possible neurological reactions to the anthrax vaccination. We left Wright Patterson at about 5:30 p.m., TSG Groll was feeling very relieved that she was coming home, and was not going to be left alone. We arrived back at Battle Creek at 11:15-11:30 p.m., all physically and emotionally drained, due to the long and unsatisfactory trip.

 

8 April

Went in to work around 9:00 a.m., scheduled a meeting with Col. Seidel to discuss dis-pleasures with the trip, the different treatments as far as TSG Groll and mine being more thorough than the other two. SSG Martin joined me during this meeting. I told him I was hoping that it had nothing to do with the fact that TSG Groll and I had filed the I.G. complaint. Col. Seidel told me he would look into the issues of my complaint. However, assured me the difference in treatment had nothing to do with the complaint. That evening, still physically exhausted, I fell asleep around 6:00 p.m., and awoke the next morning at 6:00 a.m., with a bacterial infection in both eyes. I was told by my personnel physician to stay home from work for at least 24 hours.

 

9 April

TSG Groll and I talked on the phone. I was telling her that I was "sick again". She said the base had called and ordered her to be there on Saturday, the next scheduled UTA, which was the following day, even though she had a doctor’s excuse from her civilian doctor excusing her from work/UTA.

 

11 April

When I came into drill, I received a phone call from TSG Groll. She sounded exhausted. She informed me that her husband had to rush her into the emergency room the night before. They had spent over seven hours trying to find the cause for her abdominal cramping which was doubling her over. The doctor’s had scheduled her for numerous tests for the rest of the following week.

 

13 April

Spoke with one of the twelve individuals in our group, their civilian doctor’s have been doing numerous tests. Seems that this person was experiencing chest pains, and shortness of breath. The doctors have determined that they have pularcy. This may just be coincidental. That same day, TSG LaMore and SSG Frank went to Wright Patterson. SSG Frank told me that the doctors didn’t do any blood work or any other lab work on either one of them. The doctor just reassured them that the Anthrax vaccine was okay, and they have the documentation to prove it. The doctor told TSG LaMore and stated in his medical record, that he was having a systematic reaction. The doctor recommended after the next injection if the same symptoms occur, to cease the rest of the series. TSG LaMore has been the only person diagnosed with a systematic reaction, though he had the same symptoms as the rest of the individuals. Some individuals in fact had worse.

 

16 April

Phoned the Calhoun County Health Department to see if they were interested in looking into our situation. Talked to a communicable disease nurse by the name of Sue Stieldenner. She took down the information, and stated she had no knowledge of the Anthrax vaccines. I asked whom I should contact at the state level, and she referred me to Dr. Bill Hall at the State Health Department. I phoned his office, his secretary informed me he was not in. She asked what it was regarding, and I told her. She referred me to Bio-Port, and she transferred me to them directly. A person from Bio-Port answered, and I informed her of my situation, and who I was. She said that I should speak to the director, Bill Nummy, and that she would transfer me. After a couple of minutes she came back on the line, and said that he referred me to the quality office at Bio-Port. I was to speak to a Cindy Kramer. After telling Cindy what my situation was, she said that I needed to speak to the director, Bill Nummy. I informed her he sent me to her. She said she would have to get some forms and call me back. A couple of hours later, she called. She asked if I had filed a VAERS form, what my symptoms were, and she would note them.

I cannot speak for the other 11 individuals, but the lack of compassion and care on this issue has been appalling. There are a number of people involved on this issue, but it appears that no one can make a decision. We are told people at high levels of the Guard are working on issues such as using our sick and annual leave, our insurance payments to include some high cost prescriptions that my insurance does not pay for. Having to travel to Wright Patterson in a non-pay status, made to go to Wright Patterson and back in one day, which subsequently was an 18-hour day. There are a number of us that are getting our blood taken to have it sent for testing for Squalene. I hope these symptoms can be diagnosed and treated. These symptoms scare me because I don’t know if they are short term, long term or treatable. Will they effect any of my future children, or will they effect any of my family members?

In talking to Lori Greenleaf and others that have much more time and sources in this, they tell me there is a cure for the way that I feel. I can not believe that I have received more information from people that have no interest in me other than concern for another human being. This is appalling to me considering my seventeen-year commitment to the United States Air Force or to the Air National Guard. I have been made to feel that I am just a number that they have that works for them which contributes to their statistics.

I have taken more sick leave from work in the past four months than I have over the last three years (this statement is very true for just about all the individual involved in this situation). I ask that you please keep pursuing the truth into this vaccination. The information is there. There are just to many questions, which no body can answer at this time. I again thank you Mr. Chairman and subcommittee members. I will accept any questions at the end of the rest of the testimonies.

 Supporting documentation given with testimony 1. Notarized copy of shot records. 2. Copies of orders to administer shots. 3. Letter of appointment to Wright Patterson to see allergy department. 4. Copy of medical record from my visit to Wright Patterson. 5. Letter from MSG John Zink driver who took us to Wright Patterson. 6. Letter from clinic on notice of forth shot, explaining the situation of no doctor on staff creates.

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