GWI - US Troops 'Are Sick Over There Already' - Rokke Gulf War Syndrome Redux?
Steven Rosenfeld has a provacative article, <http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/7570Gulf
War Syndrome, The Sequel, over at TomPaine.com. Rosenfeld says the Pentagon failed to follow a law requiring screening of soldiers bofore and after deployment and that some soldiers already are sick.
Soldiers now fighting in Iraq are being exposed to battlefield hazards that have been associated with the Gulf War Syndrome that afflicts a quarter-million veterans of the 1991 war, said a former Central Command Army officer in Operation Desert Storm.
Part of the threat today includes greater exposure to battlefield byproducts of depleted uranium munitions used in combat, said the former officer and other Desert Storm veterans trained in battlefield health and safety.
Complicating efforts to understand any potential health impacts is the Pentagon's failure, acknowleged in House hearings on March 25, to follow a 1997 law requiring baseline medical screening of troops before and after deployment.
"People are sick over there already," said Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army's depleted uranium (DU)project. "It's not just uranium. You've got all the complex organics and inorganics [compounds] that are released in those fires and detonations. And they're sucking this in.... You've got the whole toxic wasteland."
Rokke said today's troops have been fighting on land polluted with chemical, biological and radioactive weapon residue from the first Gulf War and its aftermath. In this setting, troops have been exposed not only to sandstorms, which degrade the lungs, but to oil fires and waste created by the use of uranium projectiles in tanks, aircraft, machine guns and missiles.
"That's why people started getting sick right away, when they started going in months ago with respiratory, diarrhea and rashes -- horrible skin conditions," Rokke said. "That's coming back on and they have been treating them at various medical facilities. And one of the doctors at one of the major Army medical facilities -- he and I talk almost every day -- and he is madder than hell."
As of May, 2002, 221,000 Gulf War I vets were on medical disability, and 56,000 more were seeking such status.
In 1997, Congress passed a law, Public Law 105-85, that required each soldier to have a physical and have blood drawn before and after deployment. In congressional testimony, Pentagon officials said that they opted for a questionnaire instead of phyiscals and blood tests
Former military officials say that labeling the soldiers' post-war maladies as PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) may once again mask the true nature of their illnesses.
When Rokke sees images of soldiers and civilians driving past burning Iraqi trucks that have been destroyed by tank fire, or soldiers or civilians inspecting buildings destroyed by missiles, and these people are not wearing respirators, he says they all risk radiation poisoning, which can have lifelong consequences.
"He's going to be sick," Rokke said. "He's supposed to have full respiratory protection on. That's required by his Common Task [training manual]. And when he comes by and he's downwind, he supposed to have a radio-bio-assay. That's urine, feces and nasal swabs within 24 hours."
The White House dismisses the claims.
On March 18, it issued "Apparatus of Lies," a report which, among other things, attacked claims that DU fallout from Operation Desert Storm has caused higher disease rates among Iraqi citizens. Those claims were part of "Saddam's disinformation and propaganda" campaign, the White House said. http://www.talkleft.com/archives/002910.html