Sunday, 14 September 2008

Depleted Uranium : Toxic Genocide Pt 7

Cary G Dean.

Associated Press 10:20 AM Aug, 12, 2006


Soldiers Are Sick of It

"The bottom line is it's more hazardous than the Pentagon admits," Fahey said, "but it's not as hazardous as the hard-line activist groups say it is.

And there's a real dearth of information about how DU affects humans."

There are several studies on how it affects animals, though their results are not, of course, directly applicable to humans.

Military research on mice shows that Depleted Uranium can enter the bloodstream and come to rest in bones, the brain, kidneys and lymph nodes.

Other research in rats shows that DU can result in cancerous tumors and genetic mutations, and pass from mother to unborn child, resulting in birth defects.

Iraqi doctors reported significant increases in birth defects and childhood cancers after the 1991 invasion.

Iraqi authorities "found that Uranium, which affected the blood cells, had a serious impact on health:

The number of cases of leukemia had increased considerably, as had the incidence of fetal deformities," the U.N. reported.

Depleted Uranium can also contaminate soil and water, and coat buildings with radioactive dust, which can be carried by wind and sandstorms.

In 2005, the U.N. Environmental Program identified 311 polluted sites in Iraq. Cleaning them will take at least $40 million and several years, the agency said. Nothing can start until the fighting stops.

Fifteen years after it was first used in battle, there is only one U.S. government study monitoring veterans exposed to Depleted Uranium.

Number of soldiers in the survey:


Number of soldiers in both Iraq wars:

More than 900,000.

The study group's size is controversial -- far too small, say experts including Fahey -- and so are the findings of the voluntary, Baltimore-based study.

It has found "no clinically significant" health effects from Depleted Uranium exposure in the study subjects, according to its researchers.

Critics say the VA has downplayed participants' health problems, including not reporting one soldier who developed cancer, and another who developed a bone tumor.

So for now, Depleted Uranium falls into the quagmire of Gulf War Syndrome, from which no treatment has emerged despite the government's spending of at least $300 million.

About 30 percent of the 700,000 men and women who served in the first Gulf War still suffer a baffling array of symptoms very similar to those reported by Reed's unit.

Depleted Uranium has long been suspected as a possible contributor to Gulf War Syndrome, and in the mid-90s, veterans helped push the military into tracking soldiers exposed to it.

But for all their efforts, what they got in the end was a questionnaire dispensed to homeward-bound soldiers asking about mental health, nightmares, losing control, exposure to dangerous and radioactive chemicals.

But, the veterans persisted, how would soldiers know they'd been exposed? Radiation is invisible, tasteless, and has no smell.

And what exhausted, homesick, war-addled soldier would check a box that would only send him or her to a military medical center to be poked and prodded and questioned and tested?

It will take years to determine how Depleted Uranium affected soldiers from this war.

After Vietnam, veterans, in numbers that grew with the passage of time, complained of joint aches, night sweats, bloody feces, migraine headaches, unexplained rashes and violent behavior; some developed cancers.

It took more than 25 years for the Pentagon to acknowledge that Agent Orange -- a corrosive defoliant used to melt the jungles of Vietnam and flush out the enemy -- was linked to those sufferings.

It took 40 years for the military to compensate sick World War II vets exposed to massive blasts of radiation during tests of the atomic bomb.

In 2002, Congress voted to not let that happen again.

It established the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses -- composed of scientists, physicians and veterans' advocates.

It reports to the secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Its mandate is to judge all research and all efforts to treat Gulf War Syndrome patients against a single standard:

Have sick soldiers been made better?

The answer, according to the committee, is no.

"Regrettably, after four years of operation neither the Committee nor (the) VA can report progress toward this goal," stated its December 2005 report. "

"Research has not produced effective treatments for these conditions nor shown that existing treatments are significantly effective."

And so time marches on, as do soldiers going to, and returning from, the deserts of Iraq.

Herbert Reed is an imposing man, broad shouldered and tall.

He strides into the VA Medical Center in the Bronx with the presence of a cop or a soldier.

Since the Vietnam War, he has been both.

His hair is perfect, his shirt spotless, his jeans sharply creased.

But there is something wrong, a niggling imperfection made more noticeable by a bearing so disciplined.

It is a limp -- more like a hitch in his get-along.

It is the only sign, albeit a tiny one, that he is extremely sick.

Even sleep offers no release.

He dreams of gunfire and bombs and soldiers who scream for help.

No matter how hard he tries, he never gets there in time.

At 54, he is a veteran of two wars and a 20-year veteran of the New York Police Department, where he last served as an assistant warden at the Riker's Island prison.

He was in perfect health, he says, before being deployed to Iraq.

According to military guidelines, he should have heard the words "DEPLETED URANIUM" long before he ended up at Walter Reed.

He should have been trained about its dangers, and how to avoid prolonged exposure to its toxicity and radioactivity.

He says he didn't get anything of the kind.

Neither did other reservists and National Guard soldiers called up for the current war, according to veterans' groups.

Reed and the seven brothers from his unit hate what has happened to them, and they speak of it at public seminars and in politicians' offices.

It is something no VA doctor can explain; something that leaves them feeling like so many spent shell rounds, kicked to the side of battle.

But for every outspoken soldier like them, there are silent veterans like Raphael Naboa, an Army artillery scout who served 11 months in the northern Sunni Triangle, only to come home and fall apart.

Some days he feels fine. "Some days I can't get out of bed," he said from his home in Colorado.

Now 29, he's had growths removed from his brain.

He has suffered a small stroke -- one morning he was shaving, having put down the razor to rinse his face.

In that moment, he blacked out and pitched over. "Just as quickly as I lost consciousness, I regained it," he said. "Except I couldn't move the right side of my body." After about 15 minutes, the paralysis ebbed.

He has mentioned Depleted Uranium to his VA doctors, who say he suffers from a series of "non-related conditions."

He knows he was exposed to DU. "A lot of guys went trophy-hunting, grabbing bayonets, helmets, stuff that was in the vehicles that were destroyed by Depleted Uranium".

My guys were rooting around in it.

"I was trying to get them out of the vehicles."

No one in the military talked to him about Depleted Uranium, he said.

His knowledge, like Reed's, is self-taught from the internet.

Unlike Reed, he has not gone to war over it.

He doesn't feel up to the fight.

There is no known cure for what ails him, and so no possible victory in battle.

He'd really just like to feel normal again.

And he knows of others who feel the same.

"I was an artillery scout, these are folks who are in pretty good shape.

Your Rangers, your Special Forces guys, they're in as good as shape as a professional athlete.

"Then we come back and we're all sick."

(The sad truth Folk's is they don't give a shit about them or us)

Army DU Specialist turned whistleblower
Dr. Doug Rokke- Depleted Uranium


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Associated Press

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