It was distressing to read last week about a careful scientific meta-analysis of more than 1800 studies of the nature of, and the origins of “Gulf War Syndrome”. That study showed, with statistical surety, that the cause of this affliction that has substantially, permanently degraded the lives of about 175,000 former men and women who served with honor in our military services in the first Iraq war was…………..<strong>US</strong>.
Yes, <strong>WE</strong> did it. With the best of intentions, of course. First, we injected our troops to ‘protect’ them against gas attacks that never really materialized. Then we sprayed the ground they rode and walked across and bivouacked on so that no Iraqi bug could harm them. Sure enough, no one died from poison gas exposure in that first Iraq invasion—for two reasons (no gas; but if there was any…). And like about 500,000 young Iraqi men, those Mesopotamian insects were also brought down to earth, and could did very little damage to our troops.
Unfortunately, the ‘cures’ were, almost without question, harder on our service men & women than the potential hazards they were designed to block; the nearly 200 thousand affected soldiers who we did our best to protect from harm now have losses in health and mental capacities acquired at a young age that they shall carry with them to the end of their lives. Aches, pains, reduced mental abilities, now and forever, Amen.
Which raises a question in this observer’s mind: Who’s to blame? What medical authority made these errors of calculation on benefits vs risks? What ignorant medical research command authorities fostered the use of these ‘remedies’ without assuring that their safety was established? And if those authorities WEREN’T certain about their safety, how could the military and VA health apparatus be so insensitive about the recognition of this self-inflicted wounding? Why on earth would it invest so much actual and psychic energy in denying its very existence?
Almost two decades later, this citizen is still waiting for an ax to fall. And he is still waiting to hear how the very heavily financed military medical apparatus is working to reform itself, so that this kind of large-scale self-mutilation can, once and for all, come to an end.