Saturday, November 8, 2008

Government’s Responsibility For Veterans Right To Know

Government’s Responsibility For Veterans Right To Know

ISSUE: The Department of Defense has a long history of using military personnel in covert medical experiments. During deployments military personnel are exposed often to dangerous conditions involving chemicals and biological substances that are harmful to human health.

At the time of the exposures the true nature of the long term health effects have not been understood.

These individuals are then discharged from military service with no knowledge of the exposures , or the possible consequence to their health and the health of their families.

Background: In 2002, the Department of Defense revealed some of the details of chemical and biological tests that were conducted during the Vietnam Era which is now known as the Shipboard Hazards and Decontaminations/Defense (SHAD). These experiments were a part of a larger program known as Project 112, which included land based testing.

These revelations are the latest in a long line of human subject research which included the atomic tests, both in the Pacific and in Nevada’s above ground test site. Then there were the chemical weapons experiments and drug testing such as LSD and other drugs from pharmacuetical companies conducted at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland from 1955 thru 1975, and biological weapons experiments conducted at Fort Detrick, Maryland, from 1952 thru 1972 and ended when the United States signed the 1972 BWTC.

There are also the issue’s of Agent Orange exposure during Vietnam, and other herbicides used during the same time frame, Agents Blue, White etc, although Agent Orange appears to have the worst dioxins in it. From the First Gulf War there is the issue of depleted uranium, the exposures from the weapons destroyed at Kamisayah, Iraq in March 1991 that released Sarin and mustard agents into the atmosphere. Then there were the experimental vaccines used during the Gulf War, and exposures to pesticides in the Gulf that are forbidden to be used in the United States.

When men and women in uniform put their lives at risk in service to this nation, their rights to informed consent must be paramount. Further it is incumbent on the government that these citizens be informed about any adverse health conditions resulting from exposures during their service to their country.

This information will be an immediate full disclosure of what is known about their exposures and their potential threats to their health and the health of their families. In the past, this information has been intentionally withheld by various government agencies and officials, as well as, withheld from appropriate congressional committees.

It is also known that the Department of Defense has placed parameters on the health studies in the past conducted by the National Academies of Science (NAS), the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that ignored known studies that show medical conditions and long term health consequences of exposures.

There are two pertinent studies that show medical conditions caused by some of the exposures that should be used by the Veterans Administration in adjudicating the claims of the veterans used in the Cold War experiments involving chemical agents they are the 1994 National Institute of Health Report Toxicity of the Organophosphate Chemical Warfare Agents GA, GB, and VX: Implications for Public Protection found online at it is dated January 1, 1994 and the SIPRI Report Delayed Toxic Effects of Chemical Warfare Agents located at

From Page 40 the known medical problems:

To conclude this section, the closing observations from Spiegelberg’s monograph
will be cited (these remarks do not refer exclusively to organophosphorus
CW agents) [2]:
A psychiatric delayed-effect syndrome was found as a result of systematic investigations
on former members of CW production and testing stations for the Wehrmacht. In
terms of frequency, two groups of symptoms can be distinguished–each consisting of
four separate symptoms or signs.
(1) The great majority of persons examined showed:
(a) persistently lowered vitality accompanied by marked diminution in drive;
(b) defective autonomic regulation leading to cephalalgia, gastrointestinal and
cardiovascular symptoms, and premature decline in libido and potency;
(c) intolerance symptoms (alcohol, nicotine, medicines);
(d) impression of premature aging.
(2) Further, one or more symptoms of the second group were found:
(a) depressive or subdepressive disorders of vital functions;
(b) cerebral vegetative (syncopal) attacks;
(c) slight or moderate amnestic and demential defects;
(d) slight organoneurological defects (predominantly microsymptoms and singular
signs of extrapyramidal character).
Our results are a contribution to the general question of psychopathological delayed
and permanent lesions caused by industrial poisoning. On the basis of our studies of
the etiologically different manifestations of toxication, the possibility of a relatively
uniform–though equally unspecific–cerebro-organic delayed effect syndrome is conceivable.

Given the fact that most of the veterans used in the Cold War experiments are in the age groups of 50-90, some urgency should be given by the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to accept this known research to aid in the adjudication of the veterans claims that are filed as a result of the medical problems from the exposures.

Many of the veterans are deceased, many of the surviving spouses have no idea that their spouses were even used in any of these experiments, and that they may even have a claim for veterans benefits, if the cause of death may have been linked to the exposures.

This GAO Report dated February 2008 shows that the Department of Defense has been less than diligent in locating the veterans used in these experiments.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology,

Since 2003, DOD has stopped actively searching for individuals who were potentially exposed to chemical or biological substances during Project 112 tests, but did not provide a sound and documented basis for that decision. In 2003, DOD reported it had identified 5,842 service members and estimated 350 civilians as having been potentially exposed during Project 112, and indicated that DOD would cease actively searching for additional individuals. However, in 2004, GAO reported that DOD did not exhaust all possible sources of information and recommended that DOD determine the feasibility of identifying additional individuals. In response to GAO’s recommendation, DOD determined continuing an active search for individuals had reached the point of diminishing returns, and reaffirmed its decision to cease active searches. This decision was not supported by an objective analysis of the potential costs and benefits of continuing the effort, nor could DOD provide any documented criteria from which it made its determination. Since June 2003, however, non-DOD sources—including the Institute of Medicine—have identified approximately 600 additional names of individuals who were potentially exposed during Project 112. Until DOD provides a more objective analysis of the costs and benefits of actively searching for Project 112 participants, DOD’s efforts may continue to be questioned.
DOD has taken action to identify individuals who were potentially exposed during tests outside of Project 112, but GAO identified four shortcomings in DOD’s current effort. First, DOD’s effort lacks clear and consistent objectives, scope of work, and information needs that would set the parameters for its effort. Second, DOD has not provided adequate oversight to guide this effort. Third, DOD has not fully leveraged information obtained from previous research efforts that identified exposed individuals. Fourth, DOD’s effort lacks transparency since it has not kept Congress and veterans service organizations fully informed of the progress and results of its effort. Until DOD addresses these limitations, Congress, veterans, and the American public cannot be assured that DOD’s current effort is reasonable and effective.
DOD and VA have had limited success in notifying individuals potentially exposed during tests both within and outside Project 112. DOD has a process to share the names of identified service members with VA; however, DOD has delayed regular updates to VA because of a number of factors, such as competing priorities. Furthermore, although VA has a process for notifying potentially exposed veterans, it was not using certain available resources to obtain contact information to notify veterans or to help determine whether they were deceased. Moreover, DOD had not taken any action to notify identified civilians, focusing instead on veterans since the primary impetus for the research has been requests from VA. DOD has refrained from taking action on notifying civilians in part because it lacks specific guidance that defines the requirements to notify civilians. Until these issues are addressed, some identified veterans and civilians will remain unaware of their potential exposure.

Table 3: Veterans Who VA Has Notified of Their Potential Exposure as of December 2007
OUSD (P&R) Project 112 OUSD (AT&L) task order Total
Number of names DOD has provided to VA 6,739 6,440 7,531 20,710
Names with no numeric identifier (e.g., social security number or service number) 666 385 none 1,051
Names of veterans known to be deceased 2,157 733 500 3,390
Possible number of veterans to be notified (i.e., veterans who have an identifier and are not documented as deceased) 3,916 5,322 7,031 16,269
Number of notification letters mailed by VA 319a 4,438 2,987 7,744
Percentage of veterans sent notification letters for those known not to be deceased and for which VA has a numeric identifier 8% 83% 42% 48%

Page 25 GAO-08-366
Chemical and Biological Defense

As the above table shows, the veterans are not being notified and when the veterans do file claims with the Veterans Administration, they are being told that they can not prove they were exposed during service, despite being assigned to Fort Detrick, Edgewood Arsenal, Dugway Proving Grounds, they are asked questions that are impossible for them to answer for instance, what chemicals or substances were you exposed to, on what day, how much of the substance was inhaled, ingested etc. Who else was present and what were the circumstances.

Despite submitting the EPA report on the toxins located at Edgewood Arsenal in the drinking water wells (that were not capped until 1978) and the surface water and soil of the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Grounds, veterans are told that they can not prove how much of the water was consumed by them and what toxins were in that particular glass of water. This gets to be absurd, on the other hand of the same argument, how many glasses of the water is safe to drink? Since the Army has been dumping and burying wooden barrels and metal barrels that have since rusted out and the toxins have entered the water system from which the wells drew from, the aquifer was found to be so contaminated in 1978 that all water wells on Edgewood Arsenal and the town of Edgewood were ordered closed and the government paid to pipe clean water in from out of the area.

Here is the list of toxic material found at Edgewood

Site Profile | Aliases | Operable Units | Contacts
Actions | Contaminants | Site-Specific Documents
The below list only includes contaminants identified as contaminants of concern (COCs) for this site. COCs are the site-specific chemical substances that the health assessor selects for further evaluation of potential health effects. Identifying contaminants of concern is a process that requires the assessor to examine contaminant concentrations at the site, the quality of environmental sampling data and the potential for human exposure.
Media Contaminant Contaminant Group
Groundwater, Surface Water 1,1-DICHLOROETHYLENE VOC
Groundwater 1,2,4-TRICHLOROBENZENE Base Neutral Acids
Groundwater, Surface Water 1,2-DICHLOROETHANE VOC
Groundwater, Surface Water 1,2-TRANS-DICHLOROETHYLENE VOC
Groundwater 1,4-DICHLOROBENZENE Base Neutral Acids
Sediment 4,4-DDE Pesticides
Sediment, Soil 4,4-DDT Pesticides
Groundwater ACETONE VOC
Groundwater ALUMINUM (FUME OR DUST) Metals
Groundwater, Sediment, Soil, Surface Water ANTIMONY Metals
Soil AROCLOR 1248 PCBs
Soil AROCLOR 1254 PCBs
Soil AROCLOR 1260 PCBs
Groundwater, Sediment, Soil, Surface Water ARSENIC Metals
Groundwater, Soil BARIUM Metals
Groundwater BENZENE VOC
Groundwater BENZOIC ACID Base Neutral Acids
Groundwater, Sediment, Soil BERYLLIUM Metals
Groundwater BORON OXIDE Inorganics
Groundwater, Soil, Surface Water CADMIUM Metals
Groundwater CALCIUM Metals
Sediment CHLORDANE Pesticides
Groundwater, Soil CHROMIUM Metals
Groundwater COBALT AND COMPOUNDS Inorganics
Groundwater, Sediment, Soil, Surface Water COPPER Metals
Groundwater CYANIDE Inorganics
Soil HEPTACHLOR Pesticides
Groundwater HEXACHLOROBUTADIENE Base Neutral Acids
Solid Waste INORGANICS Inorganics
Groundwater, Sediment, Soil, Surface Water IRON Metals
Groundwater, Sediment, Soil, Surface Water LEAD Metals
Soil LEWISITE Base Neutral Acids
Groundwater, Sediment MAGNESIUM Metals
Groundwater, Soil, Surface Water MANGANESE Metals
Groundwater, Soil MERCURY Metals
Groundwater, Surface Water METHYLENE CHLORIDE VOC
Soil MUSTARD GAS Organics
Groundwater NICKEL Metals
Groundwater NITRATE Inorganics
Solid Waste NOT PROVIDED Not Provided
Soil OIL & GREASE Oil & Grease
Soil, Solid Waste PCBs PCBs
Soil PHOSGENE Pesticides
Groundwater POTASSIUM Metals
Groundwater, Surface Water SELENIUM Metals
Groundwater, Soil SILVER Metals
Groundwater SODIUM Metals
Groundwater, Soil THALLIUM Metals
Groundwater TOLUENE VOC
Groundwater, Surface Water TRICHLOROETHYLENE VOC
Groundwater VANADIUM (FUME OR DUST) Metals
Groundwater, Surface Water VINYL CHLORIDE VOC
Solid Waste VOC VOC
Groundwater XYLENES VOC
Groundwater, Soil, Surface Water ZINC Metals

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DISCLAIMER: Be advised that the data contained in these profiles are intended solely for informational purposes use by employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for management of the Superfund program. They are not intended for use in calculating Cost Recovery Statutes of Limitations and cannot be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States. EPA reserves the right to change these data at any time without public notice.

It is past time that the government accepts responsibility for the veterans that may have been harmed in experiments that even during the Cold War violated the Nuremberg Codes of 1947. The Nuremberg Codes were written primarily by the United States, France and Great Britain to enable them to try the Nazis who had used the concentration camps in human experiments, then less than six years later, in 1953 the Secretary of Defense Wilson signed a top secret Memorandum of Understanding to allow the military to conduct these chemical, biological, nuclear and drug experiments. These experiments today are illegal no matter who signs what or who thinks they can be done, federal laws as well as international law bans all human experiments involving these conditions.

The veterans, many of whom were enticed by the promise of awards, medals, extra pay, easier working conditions and in some cases patriotic pleas, “your nation needs you”. The promise of the Soldiers medal were not kept, nor any other awards due to the secrecy of the experiments, how can you give a soldier a medal for a program that does not “exist”? The soldiers also signed non-disclosure statements, National Security agreements that basically stated if the experiments were discussed you would be tried and sent to Leavenworth for twenty five years. This kept many men from telling their problems to doctors, and how they imagine how their medical problems started.

At this point in fairness due to the lack of thorough follow up medical care after their use in the experimental programs, all of the veterans used in any of these programs, from SHAD, Operation 112, Fort Detricks Biological experiments, the experiments conducted at Dugway Proving Grounds and the drug and chemical weapons experiments at Edgewood Arsenal should all be given full medical care from the Veterans Administration, it is the least the government could do for these veterans and their families.

In addition if these veterans have any of the medical problems shown in the SIPRI study or the Jan 1994 NIH report the benefit of the doubt should be given to the veterans and compensation claims should be approved, the veterans were there, and environmental exposures are just as bad as intentional exposures, and after 30-60 years it will be very hard to separate the differences, if the men have the medical problems, they should be helped.

The history shows that the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration have not gone the extra steps needed to help these veterans and their families, since the experiments were first exposed in 1975, by the release of the Department of the Army Inspector Generals Report on Human Experimentation. The subsequent studies the 1993 Veterans at Risk Report, the 1994 Senate Committee Report known as the Rockefeller Commission, the broken promises of then Secretary of defense Richard Cheney in 1991 and Acting VA Secretary Anthony Princippi to help the veterans of the WW2 era experiments and the Cold War experiments.

In November 2004 the Detroit Free Press did another expose of the human experiments and the lack of care and follow up by the government, David Zeman contacted then VA Secretary Anthony Princippi and he responded that he thought that those men had been helped and if they hadn’t the VA would immediately get them the help they deserved. It is now four years later and the veterans and their families are still waiting, why?

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