Panel finds sickly Legacy to Gulf WarWASHINGTON - 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 today 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 pesti cides," 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 sai d 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 bla ck 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' ch ildren.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."
Monday, November 17, 2008
Another great chilly but sunny, Fall day in S.E. WI, and a gift from God-- to get some last minute things done before the big snows come. I got my wife's Dodge Caravan oil changed and all the fluid levels topped off, then visited a good buddy who has a strong back, named Willie. Since he doesn't drive [somewhat disabled] I took him to get his paycheck and he cashed it and we just drove around town doing a few errands and talked. I am very blessed to have a few good, close friends... but they all live about 22 miles away. My neck and top vertebrae were hurting and messed up big time and I showed him how to do a 'deep tissue' massage to loosen up the taunt muscles and take the tension, stress and strain off them. He did a great job and I felt most of the pain and tension melt away! After we got done at the Kenosha YMCA I dropped him off at his home and I went home with my groceries and lunch so my wife and I could eat something.
A young but wise pastor once told me that there is "a floozy in every flock", and after listening to Charles F. Stanley and other great bible fundamentalists, I have a more mature, realistic attitude/ outlook about life in general and the 'Christian church.' BTW, America is not a Christian country anymore. Just because a person professes to be a 'Christian' and goes to church doesn't make it so --anymore than 'standing in a garage makes you a car or a mechanic...lol.' They may put on their 'Sunday smile' and 'talk a good game' -- but do they 'walk the walk ??' Maybe they appear to be a 'saintly' holy Joe, who never farts or says a wrong word and always has a saintly smile no matter what happens.
I am comparing them to the real Christian church people who are very human, mortal, sinners who bleed red, get hurt physically and emotionally -- but love and worship God Almighty and 'kiss the Son, and study the bible regularly' Or just maybe the good folks don't have a church [remember the word church means, congregation, not a building] near by to attend and associate with folks of like bible faith.
I am having a challenge describing two faced whores, loose women and trouble-makers, lying gossipers who float and gloat and bloat from church to church taking advantage of people. begging, wrangling and stirring up gossip and trouble, manipulating the church members. They are parasites who twist the scriptures and trap soft-hearted, lonely men into doing things for them and also temping those men into immorality, etc. Now we know that all humans are IMPERFECT SINNERS who will continue sinning until they [we] get to heaven and Jesus forgives those honest, repentant people. I am not talking about them. I am referring to those who KNOW what is right and wrong and PURPOSELY chose to lead others into sin and USE them!
Well, I have a good friend who loves to help others move, do hard chores, he is very generous with his limited food and money-- but he is lonely and is easily sucked into 'friendly relationships' --although NOT sexual-- with many wayward women who love to use him. I just hate to see younger guys get taken advantage of, "used" and then when they are all used up or they see finally 'see the tramps for what they are' --break off the 'relationship'... the women threaten to hurt him either legally or whatever. When I was younger I made the same mistakes and learned things the hard way.
I am NOT a women -hater. I try to love and honor good, solid Christian ladies and support them if I can... but I am a married man and I know my place.
Perhaps, since the book of Matt. says, "broad and spacious is the path leading to everlasting destruction -- but cramped and narrow is the path leading to ever lasting life [Jesus' words]" I am not my brother or sisters' judge, but with all my experiences and long, active life, I can pretty well discern if a person is 'plastic', false, dishonest, counterfeit. I have also recently learned NOT to argue with a food... lol. The tricky part is how to go about telling a friend to BEWARE [!]... and do it the scriptural, right way. Older men and women are supposed to help, council the younger ones and perhaps save them the heart break, sorrow and sins that we had to experienced in past life. Just my personal input today.
Your comments and suggestions are most welcome and encouraged!
From my friend, Carolyn's Blog:
Please read and share with EVERY BODY! THANKS.
The past week or two have been pretty busy & I'm not sure if I have given enough praise to two people that have been very supportive & dear friends. Rick Shuster & Steve Hay- Chapman. Both of these guys do outstanding work when it comes to helping take care of our Veterans. Please take a few minutes out of your day to visit the links that I have included & see what kind of folks they are & what they do.
"Patches" Walk For Vietnam Veterans Victims Of Agent Orange http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2008/11/patches-walk-for-vietnam-veterans-of-agent-orange--.html
Reno Veterans Guest House welcomes 10,000th guest
Community gathers to honor veterans