Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mar/Apr 2008 VVA Magazine

Mar/Apr 2008 VVA Magazine

The DoD’s Force Health Protection and Readiness operation has set up a trio of chemical/biological exposure databases. It is DoD’s responsibility to collect and validate chem/bio exposures to service members while on active duty, and to maintain these data bases. It is the responsibility of the VA to inform veterans of their exposures and the benefits to which they may be entitled, and to advise these
veterans of procedures to follow if they have health concerns.

One data base, which is now basically completed, contains more than 6,300 names of veterans who participated in mustard and lewisite experiments in the 1940s. Some 4,600 of these veterans were exposed to mustard and/or lewisite. Data were collected in the mid-1990s, although DoD does not have dose information.
The second data base, which is not necessarily complete, has more than 6,440 names of veterans who participated in the Project 112/SHAD tests between 1963 and 1973. Work on this data base commenced in 2000; active searching for names was ended in 2003, although DoD says it will “continue to pursue all leads from veterans.” Individual exposure data are not part of the data base, as many documents are still classified.

The third data base, which contains approximately 10,000 names, including some 1,800 who participated in tests with no active agent involved, deals with a variety of other chem./bio exposures between World War II and today. These include: LSD exposures; experiments at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick in Maryland; and experiments at 19 total locations, information about which DoD is obtaining at the Edgewood Historical Office, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, and Dugway Proving
Ground in Utah, among other sites. DoD does have detailed exposure, treatment, and test information in this data base.

In these tests, more than 400 different compounds were involved. They included 46 chemical agents; biological agents and experimental vaccines; hallucinogens, including LSD; treatments, including atropine; and medicine, like Benadryl, Ritalin, and Dapsone.

All of those who participated in these experiments volunteered to do so. They signed consent forms that would not be valid today. Any veteran or survivor who has questions or information about the testing that was conducted is urged to call this toll-free number: 1-800-497-6261. DoD is seeking information on where tests were
held – they are not sure that they’ve “got them all,” and specific information on individual exposures.

DoD is also creating a data base containing rosters of troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury
(TBI). This will be shared with the VA.

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