This article is from WTSP News 10, Tampa Bay, Fla. http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=174296
Veterans of the first Gulf War can't get treatment; Army admits medical records were destroyed
9:55 PM, Feb 15, 2011 | 0 comments
St. Petersburg , Florida -- Operation Desert Storm, which pushed Iraqi troops out of Kuwait but kept Saddam Hussein in power, took a huge toll on American servicemen and women.
159,705 veterans were injured or became ill, and 10,617 veterans have died of combat related injuries or illnesses since the initiation of the Gulf War during August 1990. Since the second Gulf War began, there have been another 5,884 casualties.
Most of the veterans we talked to for this story say they are aware when they sign their name on the dotted line, they might not come home or could be wounded. However, they say that is part of the job.
The Gulf War veterans were talked to also ask us not to identify them.
As one told us, it's the government and he knows what the government is capable of doing and he doesn't want his name out there.
One solider trying to get help from the Veterans Administration for combat-related injuries says he has been turned down, because his records are missing. He says he has all the medical records for the time he was in the states, but the records for everything that happened outside of the country are gone.
The VA has heard similar complaints before, but a letter from Department of the Army that has never been made public before says after Desert Storm ended, units were told to destroy their records since there was no room to ship the paperwork back to the states. The letter goes on to say it was in direct contradiction to existing Army Regulations.
READ: Army letter confirms records were destroyed (PDF)
We showed Andrew Marshal -- the regional director of the Disabled American Veterans -- the letter and he said he was surprised they were told to do that and that the Army put it in writing. Marshal says, "This could have been one, five, six, a couple of hundred or this could be thousands [of soldiers]. You don't know."
Marshal says there should have been backups to the records destroyed in the Persian Gulf. But in the Army's letter, it says several years after soldiers began putting in medical claims, it was discovered all records below the brigade level no longer existed. When we showed this to Marshal, he agreed some of the records could have been destroyed.
It's not just the after-action reports that have been destroyed or are missing. Files we've obtained show when some veterans come to the Veterans Administration to get help for service-related disabilities, there are records to show they served, but their medical records are nowhere to be found. That means when the vets make the claims, they have to be turned down.
Another Gulf War vet told us there is no recourse and what disturbs him the most.
This Gulf War veteran served 20 years in the Army. The Veterans Administration has documentation he served in the 82nd Airborne division as an Army ranger and made 125 parachute jumps. All of his claims, including hearing loss, ankle and back injury, have been denied because efforts to obtain service medical records for all potential sources were unsuccessful. He says all his medical records are gone.
The Department of Defense does have records and sent a letter telling this same soldier that he and others in his unit were in an area where exposure to nerve agents sarin and cycolossarin was possible, but they should not worry about any bad affects.
The vet is skeptical about the claim that the nerve agent won't harm him. "So we all got exposed to nerve agent as well, and according to the military, that is never going to affect us. They just wanted to to advise us that we've been exposed."
He says when he put on the uniform, he and his fellow soldiers put their lives on the line. But they feel as if the nation is turn its back on them, now that they are home and have injuries incurred while trying to keep the country safe.
Indian Rocks [Florida] Congressman Bill Young has never seen the Army letter until now. His office asking the Defense Department to look into the matter and see how many this affects.
He wants to hear from you and so do we. If your records were destroyed, contact me at email@example.com or leave us your information in the comments section below this the story. You can contact Congressman Young at Bill.Young@mail.house.gov.
-Mike Deeson, 10 News
I've always been told by other veteran's that these records were destroyed but I had never seen official confirmation until now. I know that all my medical records from my time in the Persian Gulf are missing from my military medical records. Subsequently I have no evidence, other than my own testimony, that my migraines and intestinal disturbances started while I was in theater.
This is not to mention that my flight surgeon handed me Halcion, to supposedly help with the headaches, which I discovered much later was not only not used for headaches, it caused constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, dermatitis/allergy, nightmares, insomnia, parasthesia, tinnitus, weakness and congestion. These are all things that I have been dealing with since my return from Desert Storm and those records could have served as further evidence of toxic exposure. At the very least, it could be considered as an aggravating factor.
There is also no record confirming that I was ordered, on a daily basis, to take PB pills or that my unit was in the area of Khamisayah when the engineers destroyed the munition dump even though I was in earshot of the explosions and saw the clouds of dust and debris rise into the air.
As time goes on, I continue to become more outraged at the injustices we GWV's have had to endure.
My thanks to everyone involved in bringing this official confirmation to light. Once again, I will be sitting down this evening and writing my own Congressmen and urging them to support Congressman Young's inquiry. I strongly urge my fellow vets to write to their congressmen and urge them to do the same.
Had a head injury which needed field stitches, In a Sandstorm by the way. The last few stitches were done by a PFC, Capt had to go to something else. Anyway to this day if you press on that scar, it’ll stop me to my knees. Also got dysentery. Went to the board there, E-5 and no record of any of it
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