The Ghosts of Desert Storm (about Gulf War illness in veterans) | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

The Ghosts of Desert Storm (about Gulf War illness in veterans)

by Robert C. Koehler

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

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

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

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

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

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