CARLISLE MP TO TAKE CITY MAN'S GULF WAR ILLNESS FEARS TO DEFENCE MINISTRY
Last updated at 16:42, Friday, 16 March 2012
An MP has promised to raise the case of a former soldier suffering from Gulf War Illness with the Ministry of Defence.
John Stevenson has pledged to pass on the concerns of Jim Heaney after hearing how his life has been blighted by illness since the first war in Iraq.
The Carlisle veteran is pressing the Government to give greater acknowledgement to the condition so that he and others can get the testing and treatment they so desperately need.
And he has held a meeting with Mr Stevenson to see if he can take his concerns direct to the corridors of power in Whitehall.
The city Tory MP said afterwards: “We are going to try and look into the issues he has raised with us.
“Clearly, Mr Heaney has been affected. I will take up the issues he has raised with the MoD and we will wait to see what their response is.”
Like others, Mr Heaney is convinced the problems he has suffered over the past two decades have been exacerbated by the conditions he was exposed to and the vaccinations and tablets given to them before going into the battlefield.
Nerve agent pre-treatment tablets were given to protect against chemical weapons, and vaccinations to counteract biological agents.
The 40-year-old, of Wellbank Place, Longsowerby, fears troops then were used as human guinea pigs – given vaccinations, including two for anthrax in conjunction with another for whooping cough, that were not then licensed for use on humans
He wants the Government to open up independent testing and treatment for those presenting with the illness and for them to apologise for what happened. The father-of-two was pleased to have been able to speak about his case with Mr Stevenson – with a chance to remind defence chiefs that pressure for action will not disappear. He said: “It means this is going to be put before somebody so they know we are still pursuing this. We are not giving up.
“I was grateful for Mr Stevenson’s time. Whatever he can do to help is appreciated.”
Mr Heaney, who also saw active service in Bosnia and Northern Ireland as well as that in the Gulf in 1990/91, has been forced to give up work because of his illnesses.
He believes Gulf War veterans as a group have been treated with “utter contempt” with little help from the Government
“We feel each of us deserves access to proper healthcare,” he added.
Shortly after his return from the Gulf, Mr Heaney started to suffer from stress. Military medics told him it was panic or anxiety. He later discovered it was post-traumatic stress disorder.
Medication he is now on includes that to treat ailments to his back, knees, stomach, blood pressure, memory, stress and anxiety.
Mr Heaney was serving with 7 Tank Transporter Regiment – part of the Royal Corps of Transport – when he was sent to the Gulf in December 1990. He had joined the Army two years earlier and went on to become a Lance Corporal and an instructor.
The MoD say their priority is to ensure Gulf veterans who are ill receive appropriate medical care from the National Health Service.
Priority treatment is provided for those whose ill health is connected to their military service.