~ A STRUGGLE TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED
Gulf War syndrome (GWS) is a widely used term referring to the unexplained illnesses occurring in Gulf War veterans. The Pentagon denies that U.S. soldiers were exposed to chemical and biological warfare agents during the Gulf war, but its own records contradict the official line.
Gulf War syndrome, affecting a number of men and women who served in the Persian Gulf War, represents a group of medical and psychological complaints including fatigue, respiratory illness, muscular pain, spasms, skin rash, memory loss, dizziness, peripheral numbness, and sleep disturbances.
There is also an increased number of birth defects in their children. Brain cancer deaths, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fibromyalgia are now recognized by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments as potentially connected to service in the Persian Gulf War.
About 6 percent of Gulf War veterans have reported an ailment they believe is linked to their service. The Pentagon found that 85 percent had ailments or diseases with known causes not linked to the Gulf War.
According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, at least 12 percent of Gulf War veterans are currently receiving some form of disability compensation because of the Gulf War syndrome.
The most common symptoms
Symptoms may include:
• musculoskeletal pain
• respiratory illnesses
• cognitive problems
• skin rashes
• neurological signs or symptoms
• neuropsychological signs or symptoms (including memory loss)
• signs or symptoms involving upper or lower respiratory system
• sleep disturbances
• gastrointestinal signs or symptoms (including recurrent diarrhea and constipation)
• cardiovascular signs or symptoms
• menstrual disorders
Symptoms of Gulf War syndrome may resemble other medical conditions.
The fact is that symptoms continue to pose a frustrating problem for affected veterans and their physicians. Despite extensive research, the cause of the syndrome remains unexplained.
Several possible causes are mentioned:
• Contagious disease
• Depleted uranium weapons
• Anthrax vaccine
• Biological weapons
• Chemical weapons including Nerve gas and Mustard gas
• Fumes from oil well fires
• Exposure to inhibited red-fuming nitric acid (IRFNA), a rocket fuel, which is also an oxidizing agent used in SS-1 Scud ballistic missiles, SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missiles and possibly other pieces of Iraqi military technology.
• Exposure to pesticides
• The side-effects of drugs given for protection against nerve agents
• Military experimentation
The most common are:
GWS as contagious disease
There are some who believe that Gulf War Syndrome is the result of contagious bacteria. There are some reports of improvement in some victims when treated with antibiotics meaning that there might be some bacteria involved!
GWS as a multiple chemical sensitivity
The symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome are similar to those of industrial uranium fume exposure and condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. In particular, MCS victims do not suffer from increased incidence of congenital malformations, although immune system effects and cancer rate data seems similar.
For a long time, the anthrax vaccine was blamed by the troops as a potential source of the mysterious pattern of illness. In fact the vaccine was particularly painful and often caused a severe local skin reaction that lasted for weeks or months.
Many experts were saying that this isn’t possible because the vaccines were tested, but even after the war, the troops that had never been deployed overseas developed symptoms similar to those of Gulf War Syndrome after receiving the anthrax vaccine.
However the Pentagon failed to report to Congress the 20,000 cases where soldiers were hospitalized after receiving the vaccine.
Among these reported reactions, almost every patient noticed some of the common Gulf War symptoms such as:
• Joint and muscle pain (41%),
• Decreased energy and tiredness (29%),
• Reduced concentration (28%),
• short-term memory loss (24%), and
• Sleep problems (17%).
The Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University states that "Everglades National Park employees having extensive DEET exposure were more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function than were lesser exposed co-workers".
Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency classified permethrin as "Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans" by the oral route. This classification was based on two reproducible benign tumor types (lung and liver) in the mouse, equivocal evidence of carcinogenicity in Long- Evans rats, and supporting structural activity relationship information.
Permethrin also has been shown to kill 1 in 10 cats exposed to permethrin with 90 percent of them displaying symptoms of twitching and convulsions. Furthermore, a study by the Predictive Toxicology Research Group in Inda found significant functional impairment of the blood-brain barrier following pesticide exposure during development in rats, even after one exposure.
Many of the typical symptoms of Gulf War syndrome are identical to those experienced in organophosphate poisoning. Gulf War veterans were exposed to a number of sources of these compounds, including nerve gas and pesticides. Over 125,000 U.S. troops and 9,000 UK troops were exposed to nerve gas and mustard gas when Iraq was bombed in 1991. All this makes a good case for the nerve agents theory.
There were even some small devices installed that should alarm if the chemical gas was released. Several reports said that chemical alarms went off 18,000 times during the Gulf War. The United States did not have any biological agent detection capability whatsoever during the Gulf War. Several experts have argued that a likely cause for the increase in birth defects was the Iraqi Army’s use of teratogenic mustard agents.
Today, I am a coward. Although I have looked at and been horrified by images of the children born with DU deformities, today I just could not go there. If you wish to go here, do so. Some days, and this is one of them, I am sickened to the soul at what is done to the innocents of this planet. We all know this is genocide at its ugliest.
"Unborn children of the region [are] being asked to pay the highest price, the integrity of their DNA." - Ross B. Mirkarimi, The Arms Control Research Centre: ‘The Environmental and Human Health Impacts of the Gulf Region.’ May 1992
Since uranium is a heavy metal and chemical toxicant with kidney-damaging, teratogenic (birth defect-causing), and potentially carcinogenic properties, some sources believe there is a connection between uranium exposure and a variety of illnesses.
Increases in the rate of birth defects for children born to Gulf War veterans have been reported in several studies. A 2001 survey of 15,000 U.S. Gulf War combat veterans and 15,000 control veterans found that the Gulf War veterans were 1.8 (fathers) to 2.8 (mothers) times as likely to report having children with birth defects. Some studies also showed aberrations in their white blood cell chromosomes.
Evidences for and against
Evidence that confirms the presence of GWS
Several studies suggested that the veterans' illnesses are neurological and linked to exposure to neurotoxins, such as the
• nerve gas sarin,
• the anti-nerve gas drug pyridostigmine bromide, and
• pesticides that affect the nervous system.
Some reports claimed that Gulf veterans were twice more likely to suffer from some diseases than if they had been deployed elsewhere, and that the illnesses suffered were the result of a combination of causes.
• multiple injections of vaccines
• the use of organophosphate pesticides to spray tents
• low level exposure to nerve gas
• the inhalation of depleted uranium dust
A new British study comparing 24,000 Gulf War veterans to a control group of 18,000 men have come to the conclusion that those who had taken part in the Gulf war have lower fertility and are 40 to 50% more likely to be unable to start a pregnancy.
Among Gulf war soldiers, failure to conceive was 2.5% vs. 1.7% in the control group, and the rate of miscarriage was 3.4% vs. 2.3%.
Evidences that are against the presence of GWS
The proven fact is that similar syndromes have been seen as an after effect of other conflicts such as World War I, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the Vietnam War. So, there is a possibility that some or all of the symptoms experienced are unrelated to service in the Gulf.
The fact is also that some reported symptoms cannot be verified or connected to Gulf War service.
These symptoms are almost identical to those of several other diseases not associated with the Gulf War:
• Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Treatment for Gulf War syndrome
The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a two-year, scientifically controlled study to determine the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy in veterans with these symptoms.
Homeless and Incarcerated Veterans
33 percent of these were stationed in a war zone, 89 percent received a dishonorable discharge and 75 percent experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems. For comparison, as of July 2008, there were 147,000 troops deployed in Iraq.
A 2000 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicated another 225,000 veterans were held in Nation's prisons or jails in 1998. 60 percent of incarcerated veterans had served in the Army. 35 percent of veterans in state prison were convicted of a violent crime, compared to 20 percent of non-veterans and surprisingly, the average sentence of veterans was 50 months longer than the average of non-veterans.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT ISN'T IT?
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