Joyce Riley vonKleist, R.N., B.S.N.
Captain, USAF inactive Reserve
To the Forgotten Warriors:
Was the character of my valor less intense than those at Lexington?
Was the pain of my wounds any less severe than those at Normandy?
And was my loneliness any less sorrowful than those at Inchon?
Then why am I forgotten amongst those remembered as "heroes?"
-George L. Skypeck , Captain U.S. Army
Journal articles are usually written with the expressed purpose of
providing answers to questions posed that pertain to a given topic. However, due to the
nature of the information and documentation that appears here, it is likely that more
questions will be raised than answered. As one begins to delve deeper into the subject of
Gulf War Illness, it becomes increasingly evident there is much more than meets the eye.
Historically, when faced with a dilemma that threatens the well being of a population, the public and private sectors combine resources to determine a solution to the problem. Such is not the case with respect to the issue of the Gulf War Illness. For whatever reasons, the United States government has refused to acknowledge the existence of the diseases and withheld meaningful treatments or protocols from the service members. To compound this growing problem, attempts to find any meaningful answers to the source of these maladies have been met with arrogant condescension, denial and in some cases reprisal.
For six years Gulf War veterans have given testimony and first hand accounts of what actually transpired on the battlefield with respect to chemical, biological warfare and the much debated vaccinations. They have testified in Washington and at senate hearings in an attempt to have their voices heard as it relates to their symptoms, disease processes and chronic illnesses. Their voices have fallen on deaf ears in Washington. It is understood that much of the documentation presented will most likely be contrary to the steady diet of "news" presented by the Pentagon and mainstream media, some may find the information contained herein to be unpalatable if not difficult to digest.
The research utilized for this report has come not only from Senate Reports, Congressional Hearings, and government documents, but also from personal experience as well as thousands of letters and interviews from the veterans themselves who, after serving their country, suffer from a series of maladies that the United States military says "doesn't exist."
Having served as a USAFR flight nurse in the late 1970's, the advent of Operation
Desert Storm/Shield served to inspire me to return. I was placed on world-wide status
receiving all the inoculations required for a Flight Nurse position. The cease-fire
occurred and I remained stateside flying missions from Alaska to Cuba. My civilian
position at that time was a heart, liver, kidney transplant nurse at St. Luke's Episcopal
Hospital, Houston, Texas. My health status prior to 1991 was excellent. Subsequent to
serving in support of Operation Desert Storm from January to July, 1991, I became ill to
the point of hospitalization in December 1991 with a possible diagnosis of multiple
sclerosis. This was later changed to "unknown central nervous system disorder."
The primary objective findings were an abnormal spinal tap and six spots of demyelination
of the brain and spinal cord. The subjective findings were parasthesias, numbness and
The treatment consisted of oral tapered steroids and intravenous ACTH. I was re-hospitalized in 1993 with mycoplasma pneumonia and in 1995, tested positive for Mycoplasma incognitus with forensic Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center by Dr. Garth Nicolson. Treatment with Doxycycline 100mg. BID and Acyclovir for three courses was completed. Though able to function, I was still hampered with chronic fatigue, night sweats, debilitating endometriosis, joint and muscle pain. To treat the remaining problems, I underwent Ozone therapy. This much debated and often criticized treatment by the mainstream traditional medical community brought me relief and returned me almost to my original state of health with on remaining symptoms of significantly impaired eyesight and joint pain. Dr. Gerald V. Sunnen, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of New York University reports that as early as World War I, ozone's bactericidal properties were used to treat infected wounds, mustard gas burns and fistulas.1 According to Dr. Sunnen, ozone has a long history for use in water purification.
Ozone's properties are being investigated for applications in various medical fields.
The ability of ozone to destroy toxic or noxious industrial impurities (phenols, cyanides, tetraethyllead among others) and to inactivate bacterial contaminants in sewage has made it an attractive alternative to chlorination. Wiesbaden, Germany became the first city to use ozonation for purification of its drinking water (1901), followed by Zurich, Florence, Brussels, Marseille, Singapore and Moscow (the largest installation in the world), among others.2
Having heard from many physicians who utilize ozone, plus my personal experience, it appears that ozone therapy should be further investigated by clinicians as a potential treatment for Gulf War veterans.
GULF WAR SYNDROME AND
THE GOVERNMENT POSITION
The official Pentagon position still remains that "There is no Gulf War Illness". For six years the U.S. military and medical establishments have been debating the question "Is there a Gulf War Illness?" Meanwhile, as of July,1997, 8,200 of our military have died (deaths in service) according to the Veteran's Administration statistics.3 Countless thousands of other GW veterans and their family members and contacts have now also been afflicted with the disease. No longer a military problem, this disease appears to have spread into the general population.
MISSING MEDICAL RECORDS
Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990 the air and ground war occurring in January of
1991. Though we did not know it, many troops (it has been speculated as high as 40%) were
going to sick call and complaining of nausea, blurred vision, diarrhea, various
neuropathies, parasethesias, rash and even documented accounts of military members who had
sudden cardiac arrest at age twenty-four and twenty-five. Returning veterans have found
that the majority of the substantiating medical records from Desert Storm no longer exist.
Recently the American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) received a memo addressed to a
Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer which supports the contention:
"All MSC's need to poll subordinate units and have them do a final search of all operation records, journals, reports, etc. for references to any health related incidents involving soldiers in their commands that participated in the Gulf War...All addresses will respond to this HQ no later than 20 Dec 96 with either a negative response or an estimate of the number of pages, by unit, that require review for declassification." 4
The MSC officer said it unofficially meant to "sterilize the records with regard to GW illness information." This is further evidenced by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee report 103-97, December 8, 1994:
"Although hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel have been involved in military research, their medical records usually do not contain information about the studies they participated in, or the investigational drugs or vaccines they received Even if medical records contain relevant information regarding health consequences from various investigations, these medical records may be difficult to obtain." 5
A survey conducted with veterans by the committee determined that out of 150 Gulf War veterans interviewed:
48 [32%] of them reported inaccurate medical records.
28 [19%] of them reported missing or lost medical records.
A total of 76 [51%] with missing or inaccurate medical records. 6
Admittedly, military personnel have been utilized for years as subjects in medical research. However, when experimentation is to be conducted, the doctrine of informed consent has been considered mandatory. What should be most alarming to the medical professional is the admission in Senate Report 103-97 that an enormous number of troops were used as unwitting test subjects:
"During the last 50 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel have been involved in human experimentation and other intentional exposures conducted by the Department of Defense (DoD), often without a servicemember's knowledge or consent." 7
Therefore, the documentation that medical records offer to prove or disprove the existence of a syndrome, illness or even epidemic can not in this case be utilized. Thus, a credibility problem of its own surfaces regarding etiology of the servicemember's illness and their resulting inability to obtain compensation. The medical records, combat logs and NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) logs are also missing which has led to obvious delays in recognition and treatment of the disease as well as serving to raise suspicions regarding the conduct of the Pentagon and Department of Defense.
THE INTERIM REPORT
Gulf War veterans both deployed and non-deployed began complaining of symptoms in 1991.
An investigation was initiated in August, 1993 by Senator Donald W. Riegle (D-Mich, ret.).
Many startling announcements were contained in an interim report released September 9,
1993.8 Unfortunately, this information was not made publicly available. The
AGWVA only recently obtained a copy in April, 1997. Had this vital information been made
available to GW vets and the medical community, it would have greatly assisted their
obtaining adequate medical care, treatment and compensation. It states:
"This report will discuss the relationship between the high rate of Gulf War Illnesses among both Group I individuals, those possibly exposed to a direct mixed agent attack (as high as 77% affected in one unit), and the much lower rates among those in Group II, individuals exposed to the indirect fallout from coalition bombings of Iraqi chemical, biological, and nuclear targets (5.5% affected in the Czech chemical decontamination unit). Despite the varying rates of illness, however, the symptoms are similar. While other possible causes of the Gulf War Syndrome, such as petrochemical poisoning, depleted uranium exposure, and regionally prevalent diseases, have been discussed, no other explanation proves as compelling". 9
The report clearly shows that by 1993, the DoD was fully aware of the presence of chemical and biological agents as well as fallout from the bombing of Iraqi targets. The Interim Report describes:
1. Chemical Warfare agents that either survived the allied bombings, or were inventoried and returned to the Muthanna (Iraq) facility for destruction, some of which included;
13,000 155-mm artillery shells loaded with mustard gas.
6,200 rockets loaded with nerve agent
800 nerve agent aerial bombs
28 SCUD warheads loaded with sarin
75 tons of the nerve agent sarin
60-70 tons of the nerve agent tabun
250 tons of mustard gas 10
2. The "Soviet Military Chemical Warfare Doctrine"11 and the "Use of Combined Agent Warfare" (combined chemical and biological agents which were utilized to confuse the diagnostic and treatment process) and,
3. Exposures of U.S. and allied forces to these agents. (Illustrated by actual exposure maps indicating the areas affected.) 12
In the face of growing evidence the Pentagon continually denied the possibility of biological or chemical exposure to our troops. A memo authored by the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirm that denial:
"There is no information, classified or unclassified, that indicates that chemical or biological weapons were used in the Persian Gulf." 13
Gulf War veterans continued to become ill. The media was silent then as they are today, ignoring the real issues surrounding the disease. Senator Don Riegle testified before the Committee on Veteran's Affairs, November, 1993, again stating that the veterans had real illness' and real symptoms which included muscle and joint pain, fatigue, bleeding gums, rashes, sores, stomach pains, bleeding from the rectum, respiratory problems, hair loss, headaches, memory loss, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings.14 Millions of dollars have been spent to research the Gulf War illness yet, very little has been spent in actual treatment of these men and women. Because of the Pentagon's official position regarding the disease, we are told the Veterans Administration can only treat the symptoms of which the vets complain. To do otherwise would be to "treat a disease that doesn't exist."
THE RIEGLE REPORT
May 25,1994, the Senate Banking Committee issued its final report commonly referred to
as the Riegle report (S.R. 103-900),15 which clearly spells out:
1. the probability of chemical and biological exposures, 16
2. that Gulf War veterans were not just sick, they were dying,17
3. the disease is communicable ,18 and,
4. the U.S. Government knowingly exported biological agents to Iraq (anthrax, botulinum and clostridium perfringens, etc.) These class III pathogens were sold through the American Type Culture Collection of Rockville, Maryland.19
The previously cited report, 103-900, a five hundred and fifty-one page document, provides enough evidence, testimony and documentation so that any reasonable man, let alone physician would have to admit not only to the existence of, but also to the severity of the Gulf War Illness. The evidence was replete from congressional and senate reports, declassified documents and NBC logs, indicating that both chemicals and biotoxins were not only present, but that the U.S. had knowingly supplied Iraq with the needed materials to manufacture these weapons of mass destruction. The raw materials such as Clostridium tetani, Clostridium botulinum Type E, Clostridium perfringens, Bacillus megaterium and Bacillus anthracis (to name a few) were shipped in quantities that would indicate their use was for something other than mere research.
The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) report released April 10, 1995,20
confirmed suspicions that class III pathogens and growth media were imported to Iraq from
the U.S., and used in the production of biological weapons.
" Because the media deteriorates rapidly once a package has been opened, media for diagnostic purposes is normally distributed in 0.1-1 kg packages. However, the media imported by Iraq in 1988 was packaged in 25-100 kg drums. This style of packaging is consistent with the large-scale usage of media associated with the production of biological agents " 21
The UNSCOM report released October 11, 1995 detailed not only the production process of these pathogens, but also documented the tests Iraq did to confirm their capabilities for deployment:
"In November 1989, further weaponization trials for anthrax (again using subtilis), botulinum toxin and aflatoxin were conducted, this time using 122 mm rockets, again at Muhammadiyet. These tests were also considered a success " 22
The United States official position has been that biological weapons were not used in the Persian Gulf War.23 That position is refuted as this report states:
"The program appears to have a degree of balance suggesting a high level of management and planning that envisioned the inclusion of all aspects of a biological weapons program, from research to weaponization. It is also reasonable to assume that, given that biological weapons were considered as strategic weapons and were actually deployed, detailed thought must have been given to the doctrine of operational use for these weapons of mass destruction." 24
Since we know Iraq possessed biological agents at the time of the war and the diseases were referred to as transmissible in S.R. 103-900, one would assume that the DoD and the VA would err on the side of safety in addressing biological exposure. Especially since many veterans began experiencing flu-like symptoms almost immediately after going into the theater of operations. Others suffered from the rashes, headaches, gastro-intestinal problems, joint pains, muscle aches and chronic fatigue that have been reported by so many others. When relaying these problems to the physicians at the VA hospitals, GW vets were met with cynicism, skepticism and in some cases outright hostility. The overall sentiment was that these veterans were malingerers and were looking for a free handout from the government. In some cases veterans were accused of causing swollen lymph nodes, anemia and otherwise altering their vital signs. The overall attitude of physicians at the VA was that these illnesses were either self induced or a result of stress.
DoD and VA facilities continued to treat GW veterans as presumed stress or post traumatic stress disorder sufferers. About 95% of the GW vets that contact the AGWVA state they were first given a "psych eval" prior to treatment by the VA. Even more startling is the fact that 90% of the GW vets that contact the AGWVA state they have been either offered or placed on Prozac or other related anti-depressant drugs. Coincidentally, in 1995 the AGWVA began receiving reports of violent acts committed by GW veterans that were out of character to their pre-war behavior. These veterans had three things in common:
1. Service in the Persian Gulf area,
2. The administration of vaccines, most of which were not recorded on their shot records and in many cases given against their will, and 25
3. The overwhelming majority of them had been prescribed Prozac (or similar drug) from a DoD or VA facility.
In 1997 the AGWVA obtained a copy of Senate Report 103-647 "Persian Gulf War Illnesses, Are We Treating Veterans Right?" which on page seven addressed the violent tendencies of Gulf War veterans. Senator Don Riegle in his statement to the Senate Veteran's Committee said:
"A number of months ago, several Persian Gulf War veterans came to me from Michigan to complain about the lack of response to serious medical problems they were experiencing Their symptoms include muscle and joint pain, fatigue, bleeding gums, rashes, sores, stomach pains, bleeding from the rectum, respiratory problems, hair loss, headaches, memory loss, night sweats, insomnia, and also mood swings where people, in some instances, (they) would get angry they would experience periods of violence which were way out of the pattern of their behavior before they went into the service." 26
Recent cases of Gulf War veterans committing violent crimes, homicide and suicide are being reported in the news media as well as by family members and military members. In an effort to further understand what might be occurring with these veterans, I contacted the author of a book critical of the drug Prozac in an attempt to discover information that not provided by proprietary pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, Director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness dares to ask the question in her book Prozac: Panacea or Pandora; 27
"Is Prozac the catalyst producing in these people an obsessive violent need to kill and be killed? Are these patients being chemically induced to take their own lives and the lives of those around them? There as yet is no one agency tracking the connection between Prozac and suicide, or Prozac and violent crime." 28
When asked about GW veterans specifically, Dr. Tracy stated:
"If the Gulf War vets have not been victimized enough by what they have been through via the suffering of the terrible symptoms of the Gulf War Syndrome, their victimization has been compounded beyond comprehension by the prescribing of the new serotonergic medications: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Effexor and Serzone. And now there are reports of the serotonergic diet pills, which were recently pulled from the market: Fen-Phen being prescribed to vets as a cure for their ailments!
I remain alarmed at this practice, and particularly so when these veterans are already reporting symptoms of elevated levels of serotonin such as fibromyalgia-like pains, shortness of breath, psychotic or manic behaviors, mood disorders, organic brain disease, Alzheimer's, etc.
Gulf War vets and their physicians should be aware that manic reactions such as mood swings, inappropriate or out of character behavior, criminal behavior, violence, etc. are far too often the reaction to these new serotonergic medications, especially when patients are already in a weakened condition, as are those suffering from Gulf War Syndrome symptoms." 29
One such compelling case was a GW veteran and Police Officer from Kansas who wrote to the AGWVA stating that although he had an excellent military career, a Master's Degree and was selected for promotion in his local Police Department, the mood swings and violent tendencies he was experiencing were incapacitating. He was afraid he would kill himself or someone else.30 As a result of this concern for the safety of the citizens and those he served with, he had no choice but to resign his position.
Having talked to scores of these men and women whose follow-up monitoring is minimal and in many cases receive their renewal prescriptions by mail, many more questions are being raised. How many of these veterans are committing crimes and involved in domestic violence? How many Gulf war veterans have shown inappropriate behavior or criminal behavior which are totally out of character for them? How many are on anti-depressants and psychotropic drugs? Is it possible that chem/bio exposures could be responsible for creating neurological involvement resulting in an inability to tolerate certain stressful situations? How do physicians discern between emotional or physical manifestations? GW veterans interviewed have stated repeatedly that no matter what symptom they have, the usual treatment from a VA or DoD facility is Prozac, Halcion, Trazodone, or Buspar.
POSSIBLE CAUSATION AND TRANSMISSION
Dr. Garth Nicolson, Ph.D. was perhaps the first scientist to speak to causation in the
established medical community. Though he possesses a long list of credentials as a cell
biology researcher, a tenured Professor and Chairman of the Department of Tumor Biology at
the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, he was not professionally welcomed when he and his wife
Dr. Nancy Nicolson, Ph.D. announced the finding of a "weaponized mycoplasma."
"After examining GWI patients' blood for the presence of chronic biological agents, the most common infection found was an unusual microorganism, Mycoplasma fermentans (incognitus strain), a slow-growing mycoplasma located deep inside blood leukocytes of slightly under one-half of GWI patients studied. When they are in the blood, similar to other bacteria, they can cause a dangerous system-wide or systemic infection. In addition, cell-penetrating mycoplasmas, such as Mycoplasma fermentans, may produce autoimmune-like signs and symptoms 31
Through the use of newly developed techniques, "gene tracking" and "forensic Polymerase Chain Reaction" (PCR) blood tests, the Nicolsons detected the presence of the microbe, Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus (MFI) and other mycoplasmas in GWI patients. These mycoplasmas are appearing increasingly in the blood of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients and most distressingly, are now being found in the blood of doctors and nurses who treat them.
J.R. Moehringer, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times authored one of the most revealing articles to date on mycoplasmas and the transfer of the disease to not only family members but also health professionals. The front page article March 9, 1997 was titled "Gulf War Syndrome Feared to Be Contagious" and read:
"A number of medical professionals, who say they've become ill while treating Gulf War veterans, claim the mysterious disease afflicting tens of thousands of soldiers is contagious and could pose a public health . Doctors, nurses, laboratory researchers, as well as others who come in casual contact with Gulf War veterans, say they've contracted the same symptoms-fatigue, fever, aches, rashes and respiratory problems-that are generally associated with "Gulf War syndrome." 32
One such physician is Dr. Larry Goss, a Family Practice physician from Walters, Oklahoma. After volunteering to treat Desert Shield/Storm patients for the Veteran's Administration, he, and his wife contracted the disease and also tested positive for this strange Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus. He now serves as a valuable resource to other physicians searching for treatment modalities for their GWI patients.
When implying that the GWI is a communicable disease, one's thoughts immediately turn to the blood supply, especially since such a large amount of the donated blood eminates from military installations. Though there was a one-year blood ban for Gulf War veterans to donate subsequent to the war, GW vets now donate in large numbers though we are encouraging them to voluntarily abstain. I have personally observed vets going into a blood bank stating they have the GWI along with chronic fatigue, and the vet was told : "Well, you can expect to be more tired than usual."
Common sense dictates that maintaining the integrity of the blood supply should be the highest priority and careful screening of the nation's blood supply is essential to prevent the spread of infectious disease. However, at this time there is no detection process in place to identify this infective agent (MFI) that could be causing these illnesses.
On July 11th 1994, a sworn affidavit was taken from J. William Costello, a former account manager in the donor Resources Department of the American Red Cross (ARC) Blood Services Chesapeake and Potomac (C&P) Region. His responsibilities included, recruiting blood drives, involvement in the Data Consolidation Task Force, and the Strategic Planning Task Force which developed the Donor Resource Development Plan and The Electronic Data Management Task Force. In his sworn statement he addressed the issue of the integrity of the blood with respect to Gulf War veterans.
" I exposed various unofficial practices condoned and encouraged by the ARC both within the organization as well as with Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). These practices not only violate the public trust but, in the case of the military, create the possibility of compromising the safety of the nation's blood supply I also believe that the ban on participants in the Persian Gulf conflict should be reinstated due to the fact that these donors may be forced into donating.
In a report by the Senate Banking Committee issued May 25, 1994, entitled, "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War", results indicate that the disease experienced by veterans of the Persian Gulf conflict is viral in origin and possibly transmitted to family members, and that tens of thousands of soldiers are infected. This possibly compromised donor pool has been overlooked by the ARC and WRAMC and donors who may be having symptoms of this disease may be compelled to donate and not report symptoms of this disease, or be a symptomatic at the time of donation." 33
STRESS OR SICKNESS?
Though troops were obviously exposed to chemical and environmental toxins during the
Gulf War, those exposures along with PTSD cannot be seen as the primary reason for the
illness as it does not address the illnesses of those who were not in the theater of
operations and the spouses and family members who have now become ill with the same
Dr. Katherine Murray Leisure, an infectious disease specialist formerly at the VA Medical Center in Lebanon, PA, and has treated more than 700 sick Gulf veterans, said:
"Out of the hundreds of people I've seen, there's been fewer than a half dozen who had PTSD. It's negligible."34 It is clear to her that battlefield stress had little to do with the veterans' ailments.
Neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. William Baumzweiger, a former Fellow at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Los Angeles who has examined more than 100 sick Gulf veterans stated in prepared testimony before the Subcommittee,
"I do not believe that the majority of symptomatic Gulf War participants experienced any stress which would be sufficient to precipitate PTSD. I concluded they had suffered from environmental intoxication and that the disorders are neurological illnesses that involve the central nervous system and the immune system. 35
According to Dr. Leisure and Dr. Baumzweiger, both were recently released by the VA, allegedly for their outspoken views on the cause and treatment of Gulf veterans' illnesses. Drs.' Larry Goss and Garth Nicolson likewise, have also come under professional scrutiny.
PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
ON GULF WAR VETERANS'ILLNESSES
With an ever increasing number of sick GW veterans, President Clinton established the
Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (PAC) in May 1995 to
examine the health concerns related to Gulf War Service. The committee held 18 meetings
between August 1995 and November 1996 to hear witness testimony and take public comment. A
Final Report of findings and recommendations was issued December 31, 1996 and was less
than favorably received by the veterans who had taken the time and effort to testify.
While the PAC's December 1996 report found that "many veterans have illnesses likely to be connected to their service in the Gulf," it did not support a causal link between the illnesses and exposures to environmental risk factors.36 In the face of overwhelming evidence that Gulf War veterans were exposed to multiple toxic agents, the PAC instead placed emphasis on stress as a cause of these health problems. The PAC report stated: "Stress is likely to be an important contributing factor to the broad range of illnesses currently being reported by Gulf War veterans.37
The PAC report did identify the DoD and VA problems related to missing medical records, the absence of baseline health data, inaccurate records of troop locations, and incomplete data on the health effects of what should have been viewed as reasonably anticipated risks." 38
As credibility problems further widened between the Gulf War veterans and the Pentagon, President Clinton extended the PAC's investigation until September 30, 1997. In October 1997 the PAC issued a "Special Report" to supplement their earlier "Final Report" which almost totally contradicted their earlier findings. The committee took strong exception to the DoD's inquiries related to chemical and biological warfare agent investigations:
"We found DoD's actions had produced an atmosphere of mistrust surrounding every aspect of Gulf War veterans' illnesses ten months after the Committee concluded the government had a significant amount of ground to recover with the American public, we note the government's credibility on Gulf War veterans' illnesses continues to be challenged." 39
Ultimately the PAC came to the conclusion:
"that the DoD cannot itself lead an investigation on possible CW or BW agent exposures that will be viewed as credible "40
"In fact, the Committee perceives public mistrust about the government's handling of Gulf War veterans' illnesses not only has endured, but has expanded since the Final Report. This persistent atmosphere of distrust ill serves the Nation."41
The last paragraph of the Special Report suggests there was a concerted effort to pacify angry and frustrated GW veterans, "The legacy of the Gulf War should not be the perception that the government cannot be trusted to candidly address legitimate concerns that veterans have raised-and often have been borne out-about their experiences during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Rather, the legacy should be a recognition by all Americans that the government acknowledges and honors its obligation to care for the men and women who served in the Gulf War."42 The crack in the monolith continues to widen.
After repeated DoD announcements that there were no chemical or biological exposures
during the Gulf War, the Pentagon made a sudden announcement July, 1996.
Dr. Stephen Joseph (Assistant Secretary for Dept. of Defense), stated that new information had been received regarding a large bunker at Khamisiyah, Iraq, possibly containing chemical agents which was detonated March of 1991. At first the figure of 400 soldiers was raised as the number that might be potentially exposed. At press time the figure has now been placed at 130,000 and is expected to go higher. Fearing we might not be hearing the complete story, the AGWVA did an interview with Sgt. Dan Topolski of the 37th Engineer Battalion who was the NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) in charge of the detonation.
Sgt. Topolski reported the DoD had understated the bunker complex size and that, in fact, it was 100 bunkers and 49 warehouses each the size of a Wal-Mart. In fact, he said it was reported to be the largest non-nuclear detonation this country had ever had. Prior to detonation, during the inspection of the Iraqi bunkers, Topolski and the members of the 37th Engineer Battalion were surprised to find weapons with chemical and suspected biological markings. More surprising is the fact that there were no weapons with Iraqi markings. The countries that had provided weapons to Iraq were UK, Jordan, Russia and the United States of America. According to Topolski, when he observed these weapons he immediately contacted his commanding officer, a Major, who then contacted Central Command (CENTCOM) who's commanding officer was General Norman Schwarzkopf. According to Sgt. Topolski, after CENTCOM was apprised of the contents of the bunker, the command was given to "blow it anyway."43 Sgt. Topolski says he feels this was not a move to prevent Sadaam Hussein from re-using the weapons but rather an attempt to destroy the evidence of U.S. markings on the weapons. The issue of who may be responsible for the exposure to our soldiers is a valid one. Pictures taken at the demolition site show troops in short sleeves and no protective equipment. It is a well-known fact that chemical and biological weapons must be incinerated at high temperatures or with the use of napalm to destroy their toxic properties.
As numbers of troops (presumed) exposed to chemical weapons continued to rise following the events at Khamisiyah, DoD's handling of the investigation into the Gulf veterans' illnesses came under criticism from PAC members and staff. In September of 1996, the PAC's chief investigator, James Turner, stated in a committee hearing that since the Gulf War, DoD's position has remained essentially unchanged "and inflexible in the face of growing evidence that there were possible low level exposures." Turner said DoD's position "can be summarized in three no's there was no use, no exposures, and no presence" of chemical warfare agents in theater."44
Turner stated, "The slow, reluctant on-again, off-again release of information to the public by the (DoD's) senior level oversight panel, has also served to undermine credibility and confidence in the DoD's efforts. To fulfill the government's obligation to tell the truth about chemical warfare agent exposures to veterans and the American public, DoD's investigations must be timely, thorough, independent, credible and public. On each of these counts DoD's efforts have fallen short of the mark."45 At the final PAC meeting, members did agree to recommend that the Pentagon's investigation of Gulf War illnesses be transferred to another agency in view of DoD's loss of credibility in the handling of chemical weapons exposures.
CREDIBILITY GAPS WIDEN
For seven years the network news has quoted "official statements" found in
news releases, from Pentagon, DoD and VA sources. The mainstream media has only recently
begun to acknowledge the severity of the problems and publish articles that more
accurately reflect the levels of mistrust expressed by the veterans, their families and
those who been effected in one way or another by these real ailments. As of yet almost no
stories regarding deaths of GW vets have been reported: The Washington Post stated:
"The Pentagon is failing in a multimillion dollar effort to salvage its credibility among ailing Persian Gulf War veterans for its investigations into the possible sources of their illnesses, according to the draft of a final report by a White House advisory committee " 46
"The report, presented to President Clinton October 1997, concludes, 'Public mistrust about the government's handling of Gulf War illnesses not only has endured, but has expanded in the 10 months since the Defense Department, at the panel's urging, agreed to intensify its research efforts. It blames the office of the Pentagon's special assistant for Gulf War illnesses (Dr. Bernard Rostker) for failing to examine reported incidents thoroughly and suggests the DoD may be institutionally incapable of acknowledging that chemical exposures could have occurred." 47
THE ARISON REPORT
The obvious question which always arises is "Why is the Pentagon not acknowledging
the chemical/biological exposures, illnesses and deaths of Gulf war veterans. This most
difficult question is addressed in a controversial report released on July 14th, 1995, by
H. Lindsey Arison III, aide to the Undersecretary of the United States Air Force at the
Pentagon. This report entitled "The Cover-up of 'Gulf war Syndrome', a Question of
National Integrity"48 , he outlines ten reasons for the cover-up of the
Gulf War Syndrome:
1. Official acknowledgment of Iraqi use of chemical and biological agents during the campaign would have created panic among coalition forces.
2. The cost of providing appropriate medical care to all afflicted veterans and (because of the syndrome's apparent transmissibility, in many cases) to their families, would be prohibitive. It would be impossible to determine exactly where the government's liability ends.
3. Exposing the fact that our chemical suits and chemical detection alarms were ineffective would reveal a critical military readiness problem. DoD did not want Iraq (then) and does not want any potential adversaries now to know just how greatly vulnerable we are.
4. Admission would seriously erode soldiers trust in their leadership. If soldiers learn that their leaders will deliberately send them into battle with worthless protection against chemical and biological warfare and then turn their backs on them as soon as the fight's over, there will be no one willing to fight--especially when they know that whatever biological agents they're exposed to will, because of their communicability, injure their loved ones as well, once home.
5. There is increasing concern that before the Gulf War, the U. S. secretly provided Iraq with chemical weapons and the technology and materials to manufacture their own--to use against Iran.
6. There is also concern that we, the United States, the principal signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), had chemical weapons in the gulf and used them.
7. Admission could threaten the Middle East peace process.
8. DoD's failure to permit soldiers to refuse the unapproved, experimental, and investigational botulinum toxoid vaccines during Desert shield/Desert storm is a criminal violation of the Nuremberg code. Did not any of the Hippocratically-sworn military physicians administering the unapproved vaccines find it unethical? "Following orders" is no excuse for unethical conduct, even in combat. And how can the United States be the self-proclaimed global champion of human rights if it is so willing to conduct "research" on competent adults without their informed consent?
9. Admission now would cause embarrassment for the Bush presidency.
10. Admission now would cause serious embarrassment for General (retired): Powell---a potential political candidate in 1996. If the National command authorities did, in fact, "order " General Powell to deny the occurrence of the Iraqi attacks, why didn't he stand up for these soldiers? He knew of their vulnerability. This could be a very serious question of personal integrity and loyalty. 49
Mr. Arison makes it undeniably clear in his summary statement that:
"DoD is lying to our veterans and their families, to the U.S. Congress, and to the American people about the exposure of U.S. soldiers to chemical and biological agents during the Gulf War." 50
GULF WAR VETERANS' ILLNESSES:
Oversight Report of the
Subcommittee on Human Resources, (draft version)
As if there had not been enough money spent and enough hearings held, Rep. Christopher
Shays, (R-CT) Responding to further requests by veterans, chaired the Oversight
Subcommittee in March, 1996 and initiated a far-reaching oversight investigation into the
status of efforts to understand the clusters of symptoms and debilitating maladies known
collectively as "Gulf War Syndrome".
After holding nineteen months of investigation and hearings, the Subcommittee found that the status of efforts on Gulf War issues by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration to be irreparably flawed. As a result, they found current approaches to research, diagnosis and treatment unlikely to yield answers to veterans life-or-death questions in the foreseeable, or even far distant, future. They did not come to these conclusions lightly, they admitted lives have been lost, and many more lives are at stake.
As the number of U.S. troops exposed grew from 400 to almost 100,000, the credibility of other chemical detections was sustained. Private research probed the parallels between Gulf War illnesses and the known symptoms of chemical poisoning. The significant role of toxins causing, triggering or amplifying neurological damage and chronic symptoms could no longer be denied.
The information is now making it's way into the medical community. Dr. Robert Haley and his research colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center also completed a study in early 1997 of Gulf War veterans, the results of which were published in three articles in JAMA. According to the study, "Some Gulf War veterans may have delayed, chronic neurotoxic syndromes from wartime exposure to combinations of chemicals" and that "clusters of symptoms of many Gulf War veterans reflect a spectrum of neurologic injury involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems"51. Those denials and delays are symptomatic of a system content to presume the Gulf War produced no delayed casualties, and determined to shift the burden of proof onto sick veterans to overcome that presumption. That task has been made difficult, if not impossible, because most of the medical records needed to prove toxic causation are missing or destroyed. Nevertheless, VA and DoD insist upon reaping the benefit of any doubts created by the absence of those records. 52
OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE FINDINGS: 53
After eighteen months of testimony and hearings the Senate Oversight committee released it's findings in a draft report October of 1997.
1. VA and DoD did not listen to sick Gulf War veterans as to possible causes of their
2. The presence of a variety of toxic agents in the Gulf War theater strongly suggests exposures have a role in causing. Triggering or amplifying subsequent service-connected illnesses.
3. Gulf War troops were not trained to protect themselves from the effects of exposure to depleted uranium dust and particles.
4. Pyridostigmine bromide (PB) can have serious side effects and interactions when taken in combination with other drugs, vaccines, chemical exposures, heat and/or physical exercise.
5. VA and DoD health registry diagnostic protocols relied on the unfounded conclusion there were no chemical, biological or other toxic exposures to U.S. troops in the Gulf War theater.
6. VA and DoD health registry diagnosis protocols continue to be based on the unwarranted conclusion that, unless there is an immediate and acute reaction, exposures to chemical weapons and other toxins do not cause delayed or chronic symptoms.
7. Prematurely ruling out toxic exposures as causative, VA and DoD doctors relied on diagnoses of somataform disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to explain Gulf War veterans' illnesses.
8. There is no credible evidence that stress or PTSD causes the illnesses reported by many Gulf War veterans.
9. Accurate diagnosis of veterans' illnesses remains difficult due to inadequate or missing personal medical records, missing toxic detection logs, and unreleased classified documents.
10 . Accurate diagnosis of veterans illnesses was also hampered by the VA's lack of medical expertise in toxicology and environmental medicine.
11. Exposures to low levels of chemical warfare agents and other toxins can cause delayed, chronic health effects.
12. Neither the VA nor the DoD has systematically attempted to determine whether sick
Gulf War veterans are any better or worse today than when they first reported symptoms.
13. Treatment of sick Gulf War veterans by VA and DoD to date has largely focused on stress and PTSD.
14. Compensation ratings for sick veterans are minimized due to inadequate personal
medical records, missing toxic detection logs, and unreleased classified documents which
could help veterans establish service-connection of post-war disabilities.
15. Compensation ratings are also minimized by over-reliance on somataform disorder and PTSD as the basis of disability claims.
16. Federal research strategy has been blind to promising hypotheses due to reliance on
unfounded DoD conclusions regarding chemical exposures.
17. Institutional and methodological constraints make it unlikely the current research structure will find the causes and effective treatment for Gulf War veterans' illnesses in the short term.
18. The FDA was passive in granting and failing to enforce the conditions of a waiver to permit use of PB by DoD.
Though these findings were small concessions to veterans who had been suffering over the past six years, it is seen as the beginning of the proverbial "fall of the dominos." As of October 31, 1997, the date of the release of the "Oversight Committee Report": the VA had reported 113,000 Gulf War veterans (the DoD's Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program) with 44,900 names and VA's Gulf Health Registry with 67,989 names.54 If an epidemic is considered to be 5% to 10% of a given population and 697,000 55 troops served in 1991, an epidemic would consist of 35,000 to 70,000 ill veterans. Already we have approximately 113,000 registered with the DoD and VA which is a sobering 16.21 percent! This is considered to be an artificially low figure, as most of the prior military who contact AGWVA have not and/or will not register with DoD/VA for numerous reasons. Also, no attempt has been made by the DoD to contact all Gulf War veterans who served in active duty, National Guard and Reserve.
Increasingly, physicians in the private sector are being contacted by these GW veterans who choose not to be treated in DoD/VA facilities. Unfortunately, the majority of family practice physicians and clinical specialists have no knowledge of GWI aside from rare medical journal articles or the DoD information. Regrettably, the burden of proof has been shifted to the veteran to continue the pressure on Congress, the Senate and the American public to create the demand for medical treatment. This is happening while significant critical issues such as the safety of the blood supply and the question of contagion among Gulf War families (which constitutes a serious public health hazard), goes relatively unchecked. The attempt has been made here to raise reasonable doubt amongst medical professionals that they have, in fact, not been provided true and correct clinical and epidemiological statistics as well as accurate medical treatment protocols.
These men and women who served during Operation Desert Shield/Storm, were guilty of nothing more than being willing to die for their country. The same men and women who were asked to make life and death decisions on the battlefield are now visiting animal feed stores and purchasing antibiotics for cattle or fish in a desperate attempt to self-medicate themselves and their families. They must now face the insurmountable tasks of proving their illnesses are real, proving what is causing the illnesses and obtaining medical treatment in the face of an enormous beaurocracy that denies acknowledgment, responsibility, and most importantly, treatment.
Supporting documentation establishes a strong argument that individual policies and
practices of some of those involved in the investigation into the Gulf War Illnesses
represent a clear and possibly fatal conflict of interest. Common sense dictates that
certain basic issues be addressed and most importantly that uncomfortable questions be
asked and honest answers be demanded. As hard as it may be to face the answers to these
questions, we may find that asking them might be even more difficult. However, they
inarguably must be posed and accurate information must be collected and analyzed before
any definitive conclusions can be reached.
Chemical and DU (Depleted Uranium) exposures are and should continue to be considered as very real and contributory factors in the causation of these illnesses. However, they do not explain the transmissibility of these symptoms from one person to another. The admission of the existence of a communicable illness would obviously be of great concern to the entire nation. Why then has the issue of possible transmission been downplayed or in most cases ignored by those responsible for identifying the source of these diseases?
The information provided in Senate Report 103-900 detailing the shipments of biological materials to Iraq, the UNSCOM report, and the testimony of the troops that served in theater, indicate on all accounts that biological weapons were not only present, but utilized, resulting in the exposure of tens, and quite possibly hundreds of thousands of soldiers. What individuals would have the most to lose from the release of this information? Who and what companies benefited from the sale of these illegal weapons and should they be held liable? More importantly, were any of these individuals in a position of policy making that could represent a conflict of interest?
The U.S. Government made a practice of using its military as a testing ground for countless experiments in the last 50 years. Vaccines were administered to our troops that were unproven and experimental, medical records have been classified, altered or destroyed and the right of informed consent abused. Again, who and what companies profited from the sale and dispersal of these investigational pharmaceuticals? Is there a connection between shareholders of these companies and those who make policy when it comes to implementing such experiments or possible treatments?
As is the case with most communicable illnesses, once diagnosed, the standard of care dictates that a moratorium or ban of blood donations from infected individuals would be not only prudent, but mandatory. The failure to acknowledge possible contamination of the blood supply in light of the available evidence, documentation and testimony could be considered not only a case of gross negligence, but interpreted as willful intent, unconscionable acts that transcends comprehension.
Admittedly, the prospect or even notion of a contagious disease spreading unchecked into the general population is at best unsettling, but the concept that information has been available and withheld by the very individuals that are in a position of public trust, and charged with the responsibility of protecting the general population from just such an occurrence is, in most cases, such an unpleasant thought that it triggers immediate denial and vehement opposition.
Some would respond to these questions by immediately attacking, labeling and attempting to discredit those making the inquiries. The Gulf War veterans, their families, associates, health care providers, and others who are touched in some way by this disease should not be made to assume a defensive posture because they aggressively seek answers. And if those answers lead to the professional demise, financial ruin or conviction of prominent persons in the public or private sectors, let it be seen as nothing more than a side effect from the administration of a healthy dose of truth. Those in powerful corporate and governmental positions should not be allowed to withhold information vital to the well-being of every man, woman and child in this country, nor defend themselves by attempting to discredit or ignore those who simply seek life saving answers neither should they be allowed to disavow valid research simply because the provider is not a "government approved" source. This would be akin to negating a valid warning of "fire!" simply because the claimant is not an approved and certified pyrotechnic expert.
Voluminous documentation indicates this is exactly what has happened over the past several years, and until the mainstream media and medical community address these issues head on, there is no indication that the Federal beaurocracy will volunteer any assistance. By their actions these past seven years, they have demonstrated they apparently have no intention of taking action to assist in stopping the possible spread of what appears to be a debilitating, communicable disease. Whether those involved in the suppression of this vital information have done so intentionally or unwittingly, all share the blame. Silence is consent.
I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go, and did what others, failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who gave nothing, and reluctantly accepted the thought
eternal loneliness should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear; and enjoyed the sweet taste
of a moment's love.
I have cried, pained, and hoped most of all, I have lived times others would say
were best forgotten.
At lease someday, I will be able to say that I was proud of what I was a soldier.
George L. Skypeck
Gerald V. Sunnen, MD Journal of Advancement the American Medical Association, January 15, 1997, No. 277, No. 3, p. 223; and "Self-reported in Medicine. Vol. 1, No. 3 Fall, 1988., p.1.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs, America's Wars, dated July 1996.
Memo, in my possession dated December, 1996.
Committee on Veterans' Affairs, US Senate Report 103-97, December 8, 1994, p.39.
Gulf War Syndrome: The Case for Multiple Origin Mixed Chemical/Biotoxin Warfare Related Disorders. Staff Report to U.S. Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr., September 9, 1993.
Ibid., pp. 12,19.
Memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense entitled: Persian Gulf War Health Issues, signed by John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, dated 25 May, 1994.
Testimony of Sen. Don Riegle, Committee of Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate S.R.103-647 "Persian Gulf War Illnesses, Are we treating Veterans Right?," Nov. 16, 1993, pp. 6,7.
Committee on Banking , Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate S.R. 103-900, "United States Dual-use exports to Iraq and their impact on the Health of the Persian Gulf War Veterans, May 25,1994.
"United Nations Report of the Secretary General on the Status of the Implementation of the Special Commission's Plan for the Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq's Compliance with Relevant parts of section C of Security Council resolution 687 (1991)." S/1995/284,. April 10, 1995.
"United Nations Report of the Secretary General on the Status of the Implementation of the Special Commission's Plan for the Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq's Compliance with Relevant parts of section C of Security Council resolution 687 (1991)." S/1995/864, October 11, 1995, p. 26.
See supra note 13.
See supra note 5, pp.17, 39.
See supra note 14, pp 6,7.
Prozac, Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy, Ph.D. Cassia Publications, Salt Lake City, UT. 1994.(1-800-280-0730), www.members.aol.com/atracyphd.
Interview with Ann Blake Tracy, Ph.D. December 14, 1997.
Interview with H.G. Sept. 29, 1997 (Gulf War veteran).
Draft, Oversight Report of the Subcommittee on Human Resources, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, 105th Congress, 1st Session, Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: VA, DoD Continue to Resist Strong Evidence Linking Toxic Causes to Chronic Health Effects, October, 1997.Prepared statement of Garth Nicolson, HR Hearing of 6/26/97, p.32.
Los Angeles Times, "Gulf War Syndrome Feared to Be Contagious, J.R. Moehringer, March 9, 1997, p.1.
Sworn affidavit of J William Costello, Arlington, VA., July 11th,1994.
See supra note, 31, p.70.
See supra note, 31, p.70.
See supra note, 31, p.76.
.See supra note, 31, p.76.
See supra note, 31, p.4.
Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses, Special Report, October 1997, p. 1.
Ibid., p. 20.
Ibid., p. 23.
Ibid., p. 24.
Interview with Sgt. Dan Topolski, June 17, 1995. (Interview and bunker content on video film, "Gulf War---Fact or Fiction." AVT Productions, Wasilla, AK. 1997 (available from AGWVA).1-800-231-7631.
See supra note, 31, p.77.
McAllister, Bill, "Mistrust of Pentagon on Illness in Gulf Grows, Report Concludes," Washington Post, September 24, 1997, p2.
The Cover-up of "Gulf War Syndrome", a Question of National Integrity, July 14, 1995, H. Lindsey Arison III.,Ph.D.Candidate.
Haley, et al., "Is There a Gulf War Syndrome?" Journal of the American Medical Association, January 15, 1997, Vol. 277, No. 3 p. 215; "Evaluation of Neurologic Function in Gulf War Veterans," Journal of Exposure to Neurotoxic Chemical Combination in the Gulf War," Journal of the American Medical Association, January 15, 1997, Vol. 277, No. 3, p. 231.
See supra note, 31, p 2.
See supra note, 31, pp. 4-7.
See supra note 31, p. 8.
VA Fact Sheet, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC., "VA
Programs for Persian Gulf Veterans, " March 1996.
Gulf War Vets Home Page.