PRESIDENTIAL SPECIAL OVERSIGHT BOARD
FOR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INVESTIGATIONS
OF GULF WAR CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL INCIDENTS
Thursday, April 22, 1999
Buena Vista Theater
University of Texas-San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
LTG (Ret.) Marc A. Cisneros (biography)
BOARD MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE:
Dr. Vinh Cam (biography)
RADM (Ret.) Alan M. Steinman (biography)
ADM (Ret.) Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. (biography)
BOARD MEMBERS NOT IN ATTENDANCE:
Hon. Warren B. Rudman (biography)
Hon. Jesse Brown (biography)
CSM (Ret.) David W. Moore(biography)
COL (Ret.) Michael E. Naylon (biography)
PARTICIPANTS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:
Mr. William Vega, Director of Research & Policy Institute, UTSA
Councilman Roger Flores, Mayor Pro Tem, San Antonio
Ms. Ann McGuire, Designated Federal Officer
General Marc A. Cisneros (ret), Board member
Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt (ret), Board member
Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman (ret), Board Member
Dr. Vinh Cam, Toxicologist, Board Member
Mr. Roger Kaplan, Deputy Executive Director
Dr. William H. Taylor, Environmental Health Analyst
CMSgt. M. Wayne Smith (ret), Executive Vice President, NCOA
Mr. Juan Mireles, Commander, Department of Texas, American GI Forum
Dr. Robert Haley, Southwestern Medical School
Mr. Karl B. Laine, Civilian contractor deployed to Gulf
Mr. Gerald W. Sohn, Civil servant deployed to Gulf
Mr. Juri Koern, Civil servant deployed to Gulf
SFC James H. Hager, (ret), Gulf War veteran
Sgt. Michael Hood, (ret), Gulf war veteran
SFC Tyrone Johnson (ret), Gulf War veteran
Sgt. Jonathon Roger Lopez, (ret) Gulf War veteran
Ms. Patricia Axelrod, Director, The Desert Storm Think Tank, and Veterans' Advocate
Mr. William Vega ......................... 4
Councilman Roger Flores .................. 5
Call to Order
Ms. Ann McGuire .......................... 5
Introduction of Board Members ................. 6
Special Oversight Board Presentation
Mr. Roger Kaplan ......................... 13
Dr. William H. Taylor .................... 20
Veterans Service Organizations Comments
CMSgt. (ret) M. Wayne Smith . ............ 25
Commander Juan Mireles ................... 32
Dr. Robert Haley ......................... 41
Mr. Karl B. Laine ........................ 75
Mr. Gerald W. Sohn ....................... 83
Mr. Juri Koern ........................... 91
Sgt. (ret) James H. Hager ................ 101
Sgt. (ret) Michael Hood ................ 111
SFC (ret) Tyrone Johnson ................ 118
Sgt. (ret) Jonathon Roger Lopez .......... 124
Chemical Weapons Fatalities
Ms. Patricia Axelrod ..................... 128
Final Remarks ................................. 149
MR. VEGA: My name is William Vega, and I am the director of the Metropolitan Research and Policy Institute here at downtown UTSA, and we're happy to have you in our new installation here. I think this is probably only around the 15th or 16th event we've had in here so far since we opened up, so we want to welcome you for what we believe is an extremely important event, and that is why we are very pleased to host this.
On behalf of President Kirkpatrick of the University, on behalf of Jessie Zapata, the provost for the downtown campus, I want to be certain that everything goes well in these hearings.
Quite -- Aside from that, personally I can tell you I am -- in -- in fact had experience as an epidemiologist, and I know that the task that's being undertaken here it is something of real importance, and it's an extremely difficult undertaking to carry out successfully. So I certainly wish the absolute best opportunity, performance, and success for what's going to occur here this evening.
On behalf of the university I'd like to, as I say, welcome you and now welcome to the podium the Mayor Pro Tem, Roger Flores, also Councilman of District 1 of the city of San Antonio. Thank you.
MR. FLORES: Thank you so much, Doctor. Good evening. My name is Roger Flores, District 1 and mayor Pro Tem, and on behalf of the city of San Antonio, greetings, I would like to welcome everyone here tonight.
This topic has been of particular interest to San Antonio due to our strong ties with the military, including five bases and numerous retired, active, and reserve duty residents. I look forward to hearing tonight's comments and would like to express to The Board, who are welcome also to San Antonio, and that not to forget that it is Fiesta week. So when you finish with your tasks, please enjoy the rest of the city.
MS. MCGUIRE: Good evening everyone. And on behalf of the White House, I'd like to thank the Board and the staff for convening this very important meeting. I'd also like to thank those appearing before the Board and those in the audience. This panel was chosen by the President to report to him as an oversight board of the Department of Defense to insure that all their investigations are thorough and timely.
I'm the designated federal officer of the Board, and I'm responsible for calling the meeting to order and for adjourning the meeting. So at this time I'd like to call the meeting to order.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Ms. McGuire, thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Mark Cisneros, I'm a retired lieutenant general from the Army. Currently I'm president of Texas A & M, Kingsville. I am a board member and acting as a chairman for this meeting on behalf of Senator Rudman who is our chair, who regrets he couldn't be here today because of the recent assignment he had from the President involving some espionage and security issues of Los Alamos. And he was not able to be here today. He's a very active participant.
Another prominent member of our board here who is not with us is former Secretary of Veterans' Affairs, Secretary Brown, also regrets not being here, his wife is recovering from surgery, and was not able to attend.
But with me as board members, who will shortly offer you a quick overview of -- of their function -- But let me introduce them at this time. With us today as a member of the board is Admiral Elmo -- Elmo Zumwalt, former Chief of Naval Operations, veteran of World War II, Korea, and Republic of Vietnam. He's an Agent Orange advocate and had a very personal involvement in that in view of his son dying of cancer as a result of Agent Orange.
Also we have with us Dr. Vinh Cam to our -- I'm sorry, to my left. She's an immunotoxologist. She spent 10 years with the Environmental Protective Agency, and a very active participant in our panel. Was from Cambodia. And a very active participant.
Also with us is -- to my left here, Rear Admiral Alan Steinman. He's retired Public Health Service, formally the Surgeon General of the Coast Guard medical department and the -- of the -- and other health -- the Coast Guard and -- and some other service with the government regarding health issues.
I want to start off, ladies and gentlemen, by -- by -- again covering what -- our purpose of our San Antonio meeting. We're here to provide to the public an overview of our Special Oversight Board activity since November, and part of our agenda, we're going to give you a quick overview by some of the staff members of this board's activities and the purpose of it.
We also are here to hear firsthand testimony from Gulf War veterans and spouses about environmental and other potential health exposures.
We're also here to permit the Noncommissioned Officers Association and The American GI Forum, two San Antonio based, national veterans' service organizations, each with over 140,000 members, to present their concerns, as well as their views, on recommended oversight activities.
We're also here to allow Gulf War researchers to discuss their works and findings. And part of that, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to add my personal remarks to what our purpose here is: We were appointed because each of us are not betoken to anyone. None of us here on this panel are government employees, other than the representative of the White House who was required by -- by the procedures to open and close the hearing. But the rest of us here are not government employees. We're not betoken to anyone, we're not here to defend the Department of Defense or to put down anything or to be advocates or pro or con against any issues like that. We're here to ensure -- as the White House representative said, to ensure that the activities by the Department of Defense and other government agencies addressing the issues are in fact listening to the problems and taking the proper course of action.
We're not going to here -- be here to get into an argument, to defend or to do anything like that. We're here to ask questions, to draw our observations. We will be submitting an interim report to the President, and we're not going to hold anything back, what we feel needs to be said, to try to bring closure to this issue, what is bothering the veterans, what is the problem, and what's being done by the government. And I want to assure you of that and give you my personal commitments. As most of you know, I have spent a lot of time here in San Antonio, and I want to tell you that every member of this panel here is committed to that.
Now, we have a large agenda here today, and -- and I would ask that in fairness to the members that are -- the people who have expressed an interest to testify who are at the tail end of the presentation, in fairness to them, as we start hearing these presentations here, that you limit yourselves to the time that has been given to you. And then I would appreciate that when I generally go like this to you (indicating), that means you've got about a minute to go, so that we're not unfair to the people at the tail end of this. We want to hear what you have to say, but I ask that you focus on what the purpose of this panel is here. We're not an investigative panel, we're here to hear your concerns and make sure it's germane to the issue at hand and that we -- we have a recorder here -- and -- and to ask questions. The questions will come from this panel. We're not going to get into cross arguments here at all. That's not the purpose of this panel.
The Board, as I indicated, is prohibited from conducting scientific research. That is not our purpose. And we do not have the authority to oversee clinical care. We're not here to evaluate the clinical care at any one institution itself. But that's part of our concern about addressing, though, what the -- the identification of the issues. We're not involved with the -- with the pro or con on veterans' benefits and other compensatory issues.
The Board is aware of these issues and may consider recommendations in these areas, although they are -- are outside our chartered responsibilities. The board is well aware of and empha -- empathizes with those veterans who are experiencing health problems. The Department of Veterans' Affairs has sent representatives, and I would ask that if they're here for -- if they identify themselves before we proceed. Do we have --
MR. KAPLAN: Pat, could you stand up with Beverly from benefits. [stands]. Thank you. And then Diana Struski and her crowd from the VAMC.
MS. STRUSKI: Dr. Pauly, Henry Brown, and then our research, Dr. (inaudible) and his staff.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you. I now would like to call on board members to comment -- provide their comments to you before we proceed, and I'd like to start with Admiral Zumwalt.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: I have very little to add to that excellent presentation by the gentleman who I'm proud have as my boss for tonight's activities. I just want to say a word or two about the confidence that I think you can have in our objectivity and in our interest in getting at the facts that we're permitted to delve into with regard to our charter.
First, Senator Rudman is, based on my knowledge of him and experience with him, a tremendously objective person who will take guidance from everyone and count out no one. Second, this President is dedicated to the issues of care of veterans. I've had the opportunity to work with him over the last 6 years -- years with regard to Agent Orange, and I can tell you that he not only has followed what is going on in the field, but he has pushed the bureaucracy to move faster with regard to recognizing those diseases that science has concluded are related to exposure to Agent Orange. So you've got a board that reports directly to this President, you've got a President who is very interested in the human equation with regard to veterans, and I think you can have high confidence that the truth to the best of our knowledge and ability to see it is going to be presented to the President.
And I think -- I would underline what the General has said about the objectivity of all the board members, and I certainly agree with that. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, sir. Dr. Vinh Cam.
DR. CAM: I just want to say that I'm very honored to serve on this board, and I'm personally committed to the mission of the board that has already been described by General Cisneros. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And Admiral -- Rear Admiral Alan Steinman.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: I concur with the -- the comments of my board members. Since I retired from the Public Health Service and the Coast Guard, this has been the topic that has taken up by far the largest time and interest. I can concur that -- that it's a very interesting topic, a very timely topic. We -- We know that there are a lot of veterans who are ill and wanting answers from the government, and our job is to -- to oversee the fact -- oversee the investigations that the Defense Department does to provide those answers to our veterans.
On a personal note, let me just say it's a pleasure to be back in -- in San Antonio again. As a military medical officer I spent many, many -- visited San Antonio many, many times, and so it's always good to come back, particularly during Fiesta week.
But I don't want to say too much more, I want to save the time for -- to hear comments from the veterans and others to hear what you have to say, suggestions to us on -- on directions that we should take with the board. So with that I will stop talking. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you. And what we'll do now is go to the -- the board presentations to you by Roger Kaplan and Bill Taylor.
MR. KAPLAN: Thank you, General Cisneros. And good evening to everybody, thank you for coming, I'm Roger Kaplan, I'm the Deputy Executive Director of the Staff. I served in the Army for 22-and-a-half years, and I'm a 40-percent service disabled veteran.
First slide is pretty self-explanatory, we're the President's Special Oversight Board.
Next slide, please, Sandra.
The President ordered the creation of The Special Oversight Board by executive order. This was in response to recommendations from the Presidential Advisory Commission and advice from other areas that the Department of Defense required additional oversight in the conduct of its investigations of Gulf War illnesses.
Key points to be made is that the board itself is not authorized to conduct its own research; however, this does not prevent us from taking advantage of all ongoing research conducted not only within the federal government but also at the state -- and the -- the non-governmental researchers.
We have two reports that are required, one interim, nine months after we started our oversight activities, which is this August, and then a final report, which will be due in -- in May of the year 2000. And we will be reporting to the President through the Secretary of Defense. However, our findings are not going to be edited or changed by anybody from once we write them and once they get to the President's desk.
Next slide, please.
We are governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which means that we operate in the open. This is not a secretive group. If we have four or more of our board members come together we're required at least 30 days in advance to advertise this in the Federal Register. We also have in terms of -- of shall we say oversight on us -- (nonintelligable) -- responsibilities, OMB, there's congressional offices, senators, congressmen. Also the President himself is looking and seeing what we're doing. In addition, there's an informal review of our activities by individual veterans, veterans' service organizations, the public, the press, so we're just not going on our merry way.
Next slide, please.
Members are eligible for compensation, and generally this is restricted to per diem travel and such. As we talked about meetings, we have advance notice in the Federal Register, plus we also take advantage of the national veterans' service organizations and others to get the word out. Our locations are designed to be easy access. We're not going to be having hearings somewhere in the wilds of Wyoming. We want to be in an area that you can get to easily by major transportation. We invite a number of speakers, and -- who may have something of interest to the audience, particularly for the board, and they're always open to the public.
Next slide, please.
A brief word on the -- the board members. Just like to point a few things out about -- about each of them. They were all very carefully selected at the White House. Senator Rudman started off -- his first job was being an infantry company commander in the Korean war where he received a silver star and a purple heart. He's a two-term senator from New Hampshire, and founded the Concord Coalition. You'll know him from the Graham-Rudman Act. He's in -- He's the head of two other very important boards. He's also -- as General Cisneros recounted, is investigating personally for the President some security lapses at several of the labs in New Mexico. And he is also -- works at a very prominent law firm.
Secretary Brown served in Vietnam as a Marine where he was severely wounded. He later worked himself up through the Disabled American Veterans to become their executive director, and then became the second Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. Did a great job there, and now runs an independent consulting firm.
Dr. Vinh Cam is a noted immunotoxocologist. She's worked as a (nonintelligable) for the EPA. She worked in New York City with the Triborough Bridge Authority, and has her own independent consultancy as well.
General Cisneros didn't mention that he served two tours in the Republic of Vietnam. He didn't mention that he also served in combat in Panama, that his son deployed and then was a veteran of the Gulf War. He ended his distinguished Army career as the commander of Fifth Army here at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and is now the president of Texas A&M, Kingsville.
Sergeant Major Moore isn't -- isn't with us tonight, but he spent over 30 years in the Army Reserve. He's a veteran of Vietnam, a veteran of the Gulf War. He retired as the lead murder investigator for a suburban Chicago county. He's now the county coroner for Kane County, Illinois as well.
Admiral Steinman is a -- is a medical doctor, he has a master's in public health, retired as a rear admiral in the Public Health Service and as the Surgeon General of the Coast Guard, and runs his own independent consultancy.
Admiral Zumwalt was the youngest person ever selected to be a full admiral--four stars--in the Navy, the youngest Chief of Naval Operations, commanded U. S. Naval forces during the Vietnam War, a veteran of not only that conflict but World War II and Korea. He -- He's the person who made Agent Orange a success and continues to be involved with a vast number of charitable organizations.
We won't go into much depth about the staff members, but I would like to point out that of the eight members, four of them are military veterans. We do have also an -- an Air Force sergeant who's supporting us, as well as an officer from the Public Health Service.
We have some very strong ties with the veterans' community. Several of us actually worked very closely with them. One member was the executive director of AMVETS. We have on our staff a Ph.D. in toxicology and a Ph.D. in epidemiology. So there's quite a bit of medical expertise, not only on staff but certainly supplementing our board members.
As noted earlier, there are two interim reports which you can clearly see yourself.
Next slide, please.
Meetings. This is our second meeting, first one held in Washington. As you can see, we've got a definite date for our next meeting in Washington. We're still working on exact dates for our meetings in Seattle and Washington D. C. If additional meetings are warranted, then we will certainly advise everybody of that.
Next slide. Thank you.
Our first hearings were conducted at the Senate Hart Building, went almost 8 hours each day and we started by providing individual veterans the opportunity to talk to us about their recommendations on our oversight proceedings. In addition, we heard from rep -- representatives from national veteran service organizations. A few because of a variety of reasons, could not be there, and we're glad that -- that we can have them here tonight.
We also had a number of governmental agencies come in to respond to a rather detailed set of questions that we posed to each of them. And we also heard from other researchers as well, both within and without the government.
At this point Dr. Bill Taylor is going to talk to you about the investigations -- rather the analyses of the Department of Defense investigations of several suspected chemical agent usages. Dr. Taylor.
DR. TAYLOR: Thank you. My name is Bill Taylor, and I am staff analyst here with the Oversight Board. I'm an environmental toxicologist, and I am an officer with the U. S. Public Health Service. I'm on loan from the Public Health Service to the Board.
I would like to talk with you very briefly about some of the work that the Oversight Board has done to date. This will not be a comprehensive review of all of the work, but I want to focus on the review that the board has done at this stage of some of the analyses that -- and the reports that have come out of the Office of the Special Assistant (OSAGWI).
Okay. As you can see here, we have a completed analysis of four of OSAGWI's reports and -- that we have sent over to OSAGWI, and we have a number more that are in progress.
Next slide, please.
Some of the ones on this list have actually already made it into the in-progress list, and the Board plans to introduce more of these as we complete our analyses and send them over to OSAG -- our analyses over to OSAGWI as well.
I'm going to go into some of the analyses briefly. There are additional reports that OSAGWI has released, which the board is considering reviewing. Some of those are information papers, and we're taking a look at those and deciding whether that's worthwhile of our time or not. And there are other reports that OSAGWI will be releasing that we're aware of, and we'll take a look at those as they -- as they become available.
All right. The next -- This slide, as well as the next four, I will briefly summarize the board's findings and recommendations in the four reports that we have provided to OSAGWI so far.
The first is the Czech/French chemical detections. And if you are familiar with it, you would know that this is a series of seven chemical detections that either the French or the Czech units detected in Northeastern Saudi Arabia during January of 1991 in the early part of the air campaign of the war.
What the Board found was that OSAGWI relied on previous analyses and evaluations of incidents 1 and 6 and actually did not apply their own methodology to evaluating those incidents. And we have asked AOSAGWE in our recommendations to go back and use their own methodology and come up with their own independent finding.
The second observation that the Board has made is that in the draft report that OSAGWI sent out for comment in their external review process, their report indicated that the remaining incidents were determined as -- as unlikely. And when they got their external review comments, all of their external reviewers concurred with those. The special assistant then took the report and changed the evaluations of those other five incidents and changed them to indeterminate and published the report. We felt that that was a -- circumventing their external review process, and the Board has recommended to OSAGWI that they reevaluate the incidents, the seven incidents, and send it out for external review again and republish the report.
Next slide, please.
The Kuwaiti Girls School was really about a tank of liquid that was found outside of a school in Kuwait. The liquid was analyzed, and it was found that there was no detection of chemical warfare agent and that the liquid tested positive for a substance that was -- that was nitric acid basically. And we didn't find anything unusual with this case narrative or objectionable, and we felt that conclusions that AOSAGWE reached were consistent with the evidence that they presented. So we are asking OSAGWI to make this a final report and not call it interim at this stage. We felt that this was adequate.
OSAGWI pulled together quite a bit of information for their environmental exposure report "Oil Well Fires," and that's about the extent of what they did. This report is essentially an information paper on oil well fires, and the Board felt that they did not adequately characterize any exposures in the report and that that really needed to be done. So we have recommended to OSAGWI that they rewrite their environmental exposure report and engage a party that can make a health call as to whether those exposures occurred at levels of health concern, and then scientifically peer review the report.
Next slide, please.
This and the last slide I'll have here, or the next slide, concerns the depleted uranium environmental exposure report OSAGWI released, and this was the first of theirs that the oversight board reviewed. The Board felt that OSAGWI had not demonstrated adequate support for its bottom-line conclusion that depleted uranium was not a cause of Gulf War illness and felt that that was not -- it was premature to state that. And other findings have included that -- that the report was not clearly written, and also that there were some contradictions in their report.
Next slide, please.
The Board has recommended to OSAGWI that they verify the appropriateness of levels I, II, and III exposures that they have described in their report and to conduct other research into the -- the question of depleted uranium, and finally, to scientifically peer review their report.
All right. If you would like to get in touch with us, here's some information for you: This is our mailing address, our fax number, our e-mail address, and beginning next week we will have a web page. The oversight board's web page address will be WWW.oversight.gov, G-O-V, oversight being one word, and invite you on behalf of the Board to take a look at our -- our web page, which again we hope to have up and running next week. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you. And I might add, ladies and gentlemen, that those are our board recommendations in the interim of our -- of our efforts here that we -- that we were asked to review the case narratives and our comments back to them and we're putting out public. As you can see, there's some things we didn't agree with. And -- And we'll continue on with our efforts in that regard.
The next item on the agenda is to allow our veteran service organizations -- There are two, and they will go first in the order of presentations. And the first one who will be talking to us will be the Noncommissioned Officers' Association, Mr. M. Wayne Smith, chief master sergeant, retired, the executive vice president.
MR. SMITH: Good evening General Cisneros, Admiral Zumwalt, other distinguished members of this Special Oversight Board. As the general said, my name is Wayne Smith, I'm a retired chief master sergeant, having served 33 years in the United States Air Force, of which I'm proud to say over 16 years of those years were in the grade of chief master sergeant, having held numerous senior enlisted positions.
Before I go any further, if anyone is interested I have made copies of my presentation available down here on the corner of the stage. The Noncommissioned Officers' Association is delighted that you have chosen San Antonio as the location to hear from veterans' service organizations, advocates, and Persian Gulf veterans who want to share their concern about military service in the Persian Gulf.
Interesting to hear that many of you have had previous experience with San Antonio, and I hope as the Mayor Pro Tem said, you have the opportunity to enjoy our fine city as far as Fiesta is concerned.
Just to share with you a little bit about the NCOA. It's a worldwide total force organization representing enlisted members of all branches of the uniformed services whose current assignment may be active duty element, as a member of the Reserves or National Guard. NCOA members also include military retirees and veterans who have given years of their life in uniformed service to the United States of America. The NCOA International Auxiliary likewise is comprised of the spouses and eligible family members of those whose career was in the profession of arms.
As the general said at the outset, we are an organization of over 140,000. Right now we are sitting at approximately 148,000 members. Just to share with you a little bit about the congressional charter of NCOA, which recognizes the unique services of the association to: Uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and support a strong national defense with focus on enlisted military and veteran issues; promote military professionalism of currently serving noncommissioned and petty officers; promote health, prosperity, and scholarship for members and their families; improve and extend the benefits for military members, retirees and veterans and their survivors; provide employment transition assistance and claim representation for military personnel veterans and their survivors in both the Department of Defense and veteran communities.
I might add that I am very proud to serve as the executive vice president of NCOA as we continue to support our enlisted personnel. NCOA leaders at the national level, chapter officials, association accredited veteran service officers routinely meet service personnel, NCOA members and their families worldwide to discuss issues, provide counsel or offer military and veteran representation in their respective communities. It is from such organizational activities and private representational meetings that NCOA became involved and proactive on the issues impacting Persian Gulf War veterans and their families.
NCOA is a service organization, and we're here tonight to voice concern on issues believed to be in your sphere of over -- oversight relative to health and other issues consistent with the organizational goals of NCOA, which I just addressed. Our national legislative program over the years has worked legislative solutions for the Persian Gulf Register, presumptive findings for undiagnosed illnesses, processing of claims, VA medical research and other initiatives. Further, NCOA has testified on seven occasions before congressional hearings on the illnesses of Persian Gulf War veterans.
The association was also an aggressive advocate to establish the functional role responsibilities for the Office of the Department of Defense Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, The Persian Gulf War Presidential Advisory Commission, and also your Special Oversight Board.
In addition to the significant work cited above, NCOA asks that your efforts include the following three areas. The first pertains to the charter of The Special Oversight Board. Oversight responsibility details and I quote: "Detection of and exposure to chemical or biological warfare agents and environmental and other factors that may have contributed to Gulf War illnesses," end quote. Your review should include oversight relative to depleted uranium munitions -- munitions and exposure of personnel to depleted uranium.
Related issues in this regard are: Ensure that additional Department of Defense research is programmed to determine the long-term effects of depleted uranium contamination on personnel, equipment, and the battle field environment; determination of whether there was or should be an identification process to identify personnel and all equipment involved in depleted uranium incidents. This policy question would preclude advertising years later for self-reporting of personnel who might have been present or exposed as the result of depleted -- of a depleted uranium incident; insuring Department of Defense's long-term depleted uranium research program continues to advocate need for medical research under the auspices of the VA Medical Research Program. Specifically, to continue monitoring and determining health consequences for the 32 military personnel wounded by embedded depleted uranium fragmentation. Research to continue throughout their lives and that of their offspring.
My second point covers predeployment blood serum samples that were obtained from military personnel assigned to the Persian Gulf. These samples were provided the Maryland Serum Repository to be stored for possible post-deployment comparison as needed. What is the current policy regarding these serum samples concerning any research unrelated to the donor? The ethical question is whether the serum donor will be advised of any medical determination arising from research or analysis. Will these serum samples be available to the veteran's medical care provider if that provider wants laboratory comparison for diagnosis purposes? Lastly, what is the final disposition program for these serum samples?
My third point is NCOA has long advocated peer review of scientific and medical research under the control of federal agencies. Peer review serves not only to validate research findings, but adds credibility to the final conclusions of the research. The NCOA requests that the Board's oversight into research include external peer review as appropriate.
General Cisneros and members of the Board, NCOA greatly appreciates the opportunity you've afforded us to share its concern on these Persian Gulf issues. Thank you very much.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Chief Master Sergeant Smith, before you leave, let me see if -- First of all, let me tell you -- And I almost used the term "sergeant major."
SGT. SMITH: That's quite all right, sir. I've had that done and it's all right.
GENERAL CISNEROS: I want to tell you that I have a clear copy of what you requests are and what you want answers to, and -- and we've got that solid. You have our appreciation. But I'd like to see if any of our members have any questions of you before, if you don't mind any questions.
SGT. SMITH: Certainly, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Sir?
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: It's a very reasonable series of recommendations.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, sir. Any -- Any here from this side of the table?
DR. CAM: I'm just curious. You mentioned about final disposition program for serum. Do you have any idea about that? Do you have a suggestion?
SGT. SMITH: I do not at this time.
DR. CAM: That's all.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Sergeant Major. I appreciate it.
SGT. SMITH: Okay. Thank you, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Our next presentation is The American GI Forum, Juan Mireles, Commander of the Department of Texas.
MR. MIRELES: Honorable members of the Board, Chairman, General Cisneros, and I guess my first boss, Admiral Zumwalt. I was -- I guess I was in the Navy from 1969 to '73, and it's a pleasure to be in the same -- same room with you today.
The city of San Antonio is very proud to have this full board before us today, so proud that when you wake up tomorrow morning you'll be surprised, but I believe they're going to have a parade in your honor. So try to be there at 2:00 o'clock. I think that City Councilman Flores forgot to mention that, but that's -- that will be my responsibility.
First of all, the organization has been around -- the American GI Forum has been around for 50 years. Finally last year we were honored after 50 years of service to the veteran community in receiving our charter, our congressional charter, in September of 1998. It was signed by the President of the United States, and for that we're very proud and very happy that we now got a chance to join our brothers and sister organizations in the efforts in helping our veterans.
In 1991 I remember that we as an organization came together with other veterans' organizations and had decided to support not only the veterans -- military as they were getting nearer to the Persian Gulf war, but we also supported our country, we supported our government, and we supported our President. And our support to the Persian Gulf veterans has never been wavered. Since 1991 we have supported them when they were over there, and we continue to support them as they return back.
The American GI Forum is the largest Hispanic veterans organization. Somebody once told me we're probably the only one, but we're pretty large. Last year in Corpus Christi, as I mentioned, we received our charter. As an organization that advocates for all veterans, we appreciate the opportunity to come before you with our views and matters before us. As I am sure all of you are aware, veterans' organizations by designs were not professionals in the field of studies this board must review and assess. Our expertise lies in feeling the pulse of our veterans' community and our constituency. We also have probably the best veterans' employment program in the country.
To share that evidence that we receive and we want to provide to you, it is not our views, it is the views of veterans that visit our network of chapters through the country.
The American GI Forum constituency appreciates the efforts undertaken by this body and others at researching the possible factors causing the Gulf War illness. It's frustrating to all this illness, it still defies factors investigated to this date. Nevertheless, it is important to the Department of Defense, researchers, that the Board continue to follow the policy in open and honest disclosure as such potential factors for the illness is studied and eliminated. To this date we are satisfied with the efforts that has been put forth in this regard, and today's presentation is a clear indication of that. And such forums that you have today and the future also help the veterans' community.
It may be helpful, however, to simplify the information as much as possible in distributing to the general public. As you know, we -- our constituency consists of members throughout the country, and as simple as the information can be provided the more easier it is. We remind you that the technical matters of your work may be essential to your deliberations and also for general consumption more basic working and more opportunities.
Some recent commentaries we have received concern the lack of opportunity for active duty personnel in participating in some of the special studies being considered, such as the extensive testing and evaluations that are being performed at the Houston VA medical center in coordination with the Baylor College of Medicine. It is the perception of some that our active duty members that may be missing out on the opportunities that other veterans have by participating in this study.
The American GI Forum membership has been concerned with timeliness on all these studies. Next month will mark the fourth anniversary of the executive order that established the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War veterans' illnesses. We accept the fact a universally accepted cause for the illness has yet to be determined. We are nonetheless gravely concerned that the services that the veterans need are also being delayed.
We encourage this board that exercise the oversight responsibility by ensuring that the progress of the services is not delayed while awaiting the final determination on the pending studies being conducted. Veterans claiming element -- ailments from the Gulf War should be served on the presumption of any actual ailment that all will be eventually be identified and classified. There is too much evidence available to discuss the claims of thousands and thousands of veterans currently suffering from the various medical manifests of the Gulf War illness.
In closing, I would also urge you to allow in your data accumulation for the variables that could apply to race or ethnic groups. Many times before we have experienced the problems that we receive input from the network of members that required inquiry information pertinent to the Hispanic veterans only to be told that the breakdown for Hispanic veterans are not available. It makes sense that your oversight role assures that this data for such breakdown is planned for up-front so that we won't have to hear the same excuses in the years to come that this information was not available.
In closing, we thank you very much for showing up to the beautiful city of San Antonio, and please be there at the parade tomorrow at 2:00 o'clock. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Commander Mireles. You've hit the essence of what our purpose is, and we're committed to following up on those things, many of which you've mentioned there. I'd like to see if there are any board questions. Yours sir?
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Okay.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Admiral, sir?
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Sir, could you expand a little bit on your comment about active duty personnel wanting to be included in the clinical research programs.
MR. MIRELES: It has been brought to our attention that there are some studies being done at Houston at the VA medical center, and it is for veterans, Persian Gulf veterans, but we believe that active duty personnel are not allowed to participate in those studies. We're asking, if that is the case, that these active duty personnel be allowed to participate in these studies as well.
DR. CAM: Yeah. Just one question on your recommendation for minority breakdown. That has never been done before or there is not enough data on that?
MR. MIRELES: And we realize that, and that's why we're asking you at this time, if at all possible, we would appreciate if those figures could be accumulated so that we can use these figures in the future. I realize that -- that it has not been in the past, but this is something that we'd like to recommend with this board and hopefully for future boards. In the past they've asked us for information about our own group, how many Hispanic veterans served, how many -- how many participated. And when these figures are asked from us and we cannot accumulate them or get them ourselves, it's very difficult to give these figures as well. And so then it becomes a guessing game for an organization like ourselves, and someone will probably say, "Well, where did you get those figures?" I think it's important to us for us to identify the organization that we serve -- the organization that I serve is how many served -- how many were affected by the illness, how many received disabilities, so that we may use that information and provide that information specifically to our constituency.
DR. CAM: Thank you.
MR. KOERN: Can we have a question from up here?
GENERAL CISNEROS: Are you going to be speaking? Are you on the --
MR. KOERN: I'd like to make him aware of something.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. I'll allow it this time, but very briefly.
MR. KOERN: Sir, yesterday morning I found out the same people that are testing up there, they're excluding the very, very sick people. Because -- Because I had three cancer operations two years ago in '97 and '98 and because I -- I can't breathe, I have no energy, and because I took some antibiotics for 30 days within the last 2 years, I'm excluded from those studies. I wanted to get help, see if I could be tested and cured, and they cannot do that because of -- because of the exclusions.
GENERAL CISNEROS: I don't -- I don't -- I don't think he handles that issue.
MR. KOERN: Well, I understand that.
GENERAL CISNEROS: He just made a statement. But I would encourage you to -- to testify here, because we're -- we're making this --
MR. KOERN: (Inaudible) I'm testifying on what you people asked us to. But I will bring that up if you want me to, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: We would appreciate, yes. Yes.
MR. KOERN: Okay.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Because that issue that you're raising should be addressed to the Board. And --
MR. KOERN: All right, sir. I apologize to --
GENERAL CISNEROS: No, no problem. I just want to make sure you have an opportunity, but it's -- it's appropriate that you be up here test -- so we can then have some dialogue with you --
MR. KOERN: All right.
GENERAL CISNEROS: -- rather than a question to one of our presenters. Okay?
Commander Mireles, thank you so much for appearing before us today, and thank you for both -- what both service organizations do for our --
MR. MIRELES: Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: -- soldiers, sailors, and airmen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, that's the end of our veterans' service organizations' presentation. We're now going to go to basically the floor presentation, and we're going to start off, in order to accommodate a schedule -- a schedule, a research presentation that Dr. Robert Haley asked to present to us, and we're offering him that opportunity to do so at this time.
Dr. Haley, are you --
DR. HALEY: Yes, I'm here. Members of the panel and the members of the audience, I'm very pleased and honored to speak to you today. I am an internist in academic medicine at Southwestern Medical School, University of Texas in Dallas. I served a residency at Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Hospital, spent 10 years at the CDC as a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service. There I investigated epidemics and did special studies at CDC for 10 years. Then I returned to the faculty 15 years ago at -- in Dallas to make an academic career of studying epidemics and trying to refine techniques and statistical methods for doing so. And I run a division of epidemiology within the Department of Internal Medicine at Southwestern.
I had no intention of getting involved in the Gulf War illness. I thought it was a psychological problem that -- a very complicated issue that would never be solved. This was back in early '94. One day I was in my office and the president of the university called me up and said, "I need you to come over tomorrow morning, we're going to meet with Ross Perot." And I said, "Well, I don't know Ross Perot. Why do you want me there?" And he said, "Well, he wants to talk about the Gulf War syndrome, that there may be something to this." And so I said, "Good heavens, let's don't get involved in that. It would be a terrible waste of our time. We" -- "We're doing more important things." I -- I had no idea what it was, but I didn't want to get involved.
We met with Mr. Perot, and basically he said, "I go around talking to veterans' groups frequently, have for 30 years, and something new has been happening since the Gulf War. Invariably now when I meet with a group, afterward a wife or a company commander will bring a fellow up and say, 'This isn't the fellow who went over to the war. Something happened and he's a different person now.'" And he said, "You know, the first few times I just excused myself and begged off, but," he says, "this is happening to me every time now and" -- "and increasingly, and I've checked with the" -- "the" -- "the government, and they have said it's stress and nothing to do, and I think they've dropped the ball. And we need an independent study from the government, if you guys will do it, I'll pay for it."
So we said, "Well, look, this is probably psychological, so we're" -- "we will do a study. We'll go out and do a CDC case type control study and see if we can solve this thing, and if it's a psychological problem we'll prove that, and if it's something else, we'll try to get evidence on that as well, but we want you to know there's no preconceived idea."
And he said, "I don't want a preconceived idea, I want to know what it is or" -- "or whether the government's got it right or do we need to go in a different direction."
So we were off and running. We did a study, and I'm not going to present any slides or scientific data, because I know you have the scientific papers we published. Let me just summarize what we've done and where we're going, and then perhaps you'll have some questions about maybe where we should go.
Basically we did what should have been done in 1992 or 1993. There is a well-tested "fire drill" we call it for investigating an epidemic, and if this Gulf War syndrome is an epidemic it should have been handled just -- what we call the "CDC fire drill" for investigating epidemics. It's called a "case control study." It's very simple. Basically what you do is you go into a group of people who you think might contain some of the ill people, you ask for the ill people to step forward, you examine them, you talk to them, and then you write down what's called a "case definition."
Now, look, if I don't get across anything else, the -- the problem -- the reason we're here today instead of having solved this 7 years ago is that they failed to make a case definition: "A case of Gulf War syndrome is defined as this symptom, this symptom, and this symptom or any three of these or whatever," case definition.
Now, Jay Sanford, I'm sure some of you know Dr. Jay Sanford, he was my mentor in medical school, and I -- until he died a year or so ago, he was -- he and I were very close, as I'm sure he was with some of -- some of you all. He came up with a case definition in 1993 from interviewing -- reviewing a large number of records. General Blanck asked him to do this. There's nobody better at doing it. He came up with a case definition, which was known at that time as the "Sanford Definition." For some reason inexplicably in early '94 when Steven Joseph became the Assistant Secretary for Defense, around that era, that case definition was dropped, no case control study was done, and we went off into the CCEP examining individual veterans in a medical context which never could hope to find the -- the -- the nature or cause of an epidemic. In other words, we turned the corner, and we went off into irrelevancy, and that case definition was never used.
In early '94 we got involved, we went to the NIH conference, which by -- by the way, was a terrific effort to set the thing back on the right road. It was -- it was billed as a conference to establish a case definition. Well, at the end, the people on the panel said, "We can't come up with a case definition." So we turned to the right again and -- and went -- lost the opportunity.
Well, sitting there in the audience, I had a toxicologist with me, Dr. Tom Kurt (phonetic), who's also on our faculty and has worked with us all the way through with this, and he looked up at the list of symptoms and then the list of exposures, a third of which where were organophosphate chemicals or similar carbonate chemicals; he, being a toxicologist hypothesized that this may be due to organophosphate induced delayed neuropathy, OPIDN. Organophosphate induced delayed neuropathy. This is simply the brain and nerve damage that is caused by pesticides. It affects agricultural workers. It's a well-known problem in toxicology, but not well known to most doctors, and that was another one of the problems why it wasn't recognized earlier.
He then hypothesized further on that day at the NIH conference that perhaps since no one of these chemicals intoxicated people enough to produce acute symptoms, and that was well known, perhaps combinations of -- people exposed to more than one of these might have had a synergistic reaction, enough to produce a minor brain injury that would not be -- that -- that would -- that would appear months later, which has pressed it in the pesticide injury literature.
We came away from the -- And -- And I was sitting there at the same time thinking, "My goodness, here we are 3 years later, and no one has done the CDC type case control study. How can that be?" So I was sitting there writing the X's and O's about how to do that, since I'd done many of them at CDC, and we came back and immediately designed a study.
We found a unit to study, a military unit. In other words, we didn't ask for volunteers to come forward, that's a mistake, you don't learn anything from volunteers stepping forward. We picked a unit that went to the war and decided to try to contact as many people as we could from that unit so that we would be reaching out and bringing in our own subjects to study. We got -- We picked the 24th Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, a Seabees unit that participated in the war, reserve Seabees unit, because reserves all come back to the same neighborhood and we can find them. Seabees because Seabees tend to go all over the battlefield, they're not located in just a single area. And so like the sentinel chickens in (inaudible) viral surveillance, if -- if there was a geographical risk somewhere, some of these guys would have had it. So that's why we picked them. We -- We got 250 of them together and administered a questionnaire on their symptoms and a questionnaire on their exposures. We then brought the data back -- and a psychological battery to see if this was post-traumatic stress disorder, or a psychological test. We brought it -- the data back to Dallas, computerized it, did an analysis, expecting to find this was post-traumatic stress disorder or depression or a combination of that sort of thing, and it wasn't. In fact, the psychological -- there was not one psychological profile that suggests PTSD in this unit. We were really surprised.
We then did -- We then tried to establish case definition. Well, there -- that was difficult, and that's why everybody had failed so far. So we used a technique called "factor analysis." It's a fancy mathematical technique to see is there a group of symptoms that hang together. That is, was there a group of people -- could we find a group of people, all of whom complained of about the same group of symptoms. That's what a syndrome is. And in fact there was. There were three -- There -- There was a syndrome with what appeared to be at least three variants. Okay? And this is mathematically. We published this in JAMA, and I'm sure you have those papers. If not, I can certainly provide them. We then thought, "Well, it looks like there really is a syndrome that doesn't look like anything we've seen except possibly a neurological problem, a very subtle neurological problem with three different manifestations."
We compared it to Jay Sanford's case definition and in fact in the paper we show that Sanford's definition overlapped perfectly with our syndromes I and III, our syndrome variance I and III, but it totally missed No. II. Well No. II were the sickest guys. Half of them were unemployed by 1994 and had all left the military right after the war, too sick to serve. Well, I showed that to Dr. Sanford and he said, as I said, "That's obvious. The reason I didn't see any of your syndrome II's, these were the ones that had ataxia, different balance disturbances, really severe difficulty with cognition, with reading and thinking and so forth." He said, "You know, the reason that we didn't see those is because I made my definition in 1993, late '93, from looking at people who were still on active duty in '93, so I saw the syndrome I and syndrome III, but I didn't see the II's, because they were too sick and they were gone by '93. They were out in the private sector by then."
We then compared our case definition with the psychological tests and showed it was clearly not any known psychological condition. We then -- We didn't publish that. We then sat on it because we realized that could be just statistical artifact. It was a big mathematical analysis. Clearly we could have fooled ourselves with a statistical artifact, so we decided at this point to bring in a group of those guys who -- who made -- who had these syndromes, what appeared to be syndromes, to bring them to Dallas along with a carefully matched group of their -- their fellow Seabees who were not ill, matched for age, sex, and education levels, so they would be just like the sick guys, but not sick. So we brought them in, in groups of two to three and four, and put them through a whole bunch of very subtle neurological tests.
In other words, I basically went through the faculty at Southwestern, which is one of the best, largest clinical research centers in the country and said to everybody, "What is the test that would show this subtle brain damage, what is the most sensitive test," because obviously a regular neurological test won't show anything. So we put together a battery of tests, we proposed this to the Defense Department, it went up to Secretary Joseph's office and it was turned down for funding. So Ross Perot funded it, as he said he would.
We brought the people in, the doctors remained blinded to who was sick and who was well so they couldn't influence the results. They just did the tests, put the data in the computer. When we broke the code at the end of the study and analyzed the data, sure enough, the fellows with the symptoms had abnormal neurological signs on these very subtle neurological tests, and the well guys were totally normal. And we published this in the second paper in JAMA. But we still didn't publish this because that suggested that we really did have a neurological syndrome, a subtle neurological syndrome, but it didn't tell us what the cause was.
So we then -- Remember we had -- we had given the -- the people a questionnaire on their exposures, and we put in a questionnaire all the exposures that had been developed by the Defense Science Board, the Institute of Medicine Committees and so forth. This -- this list of risk factors is well known. Put them all in, analyzed this in the computer, and in this analysis, typical CDC epidemic investigation analysis, you're looking for one or more risk factors that all of -- almost all of the sick guys said they were exposed to but almost all of the well guys said they were not exposed to. You see? And that's then a clue to what the cause is.
Now remember, we're the first ones to do this. We're still the only ones who have done this, 7 years later, no one else has done this. Well, in the analysis it jumped out the first day, it didn't take very long. The first day four risk factors that were chemical exposures were strongly associated. Almost all the sick guys said yes and almost all the well guys said no. It's important to point out though there were about ten other risk factors that were not chemical exposures, depleted uranium exposure, combat exposure, the different medicines they took, Ciprofloxacin, etcetera, all of those risk factors were no different between the two groups. So it's not as the -- many of our critics have pointed out, it's not recall bias, that all the sick guys endorsed everything and all the well guys didn't, it wasn't that way at all. It was very specific for risk factors that are chemical exposures, and those were exposure to chemical -- what appeared to be chemical weapon exposures, where the alarms went off, people got in their MOPP 4, up to -- MOPP 4 and put on their uniform -- impervious suits, the marines said, "This is not a drill" and -- and so forth. You know what that is.
The second risk factor was having severe side effects after taking the pyridostigmine tablets. Now, everybody who takes those gets a little bit of diarrhea, maybe a little gastrointestinal stuff, but about 10 percent of Israeli troops in a published study and about 10 percent of our troops in our study had a severe reaction to the pyridostigmine tablets. Okay? That is, they had not only the -- the GIs, but they also had a little clouded consciousness, muscle fasciculations, muscle cramps, and so forth, indicating a much more severe type of side effect.
The third risk factor was exposure to high potency insect repellent. That is, those people who wore insect repellant that was issued by the military that had 75 percent DEET and ethanol. Now, many of the people brought insect repellants from home. Off, which has only about 20 to 30 percent -- 10 to 30 percent DEET in an emollient that's not absorbed. Or Avon Skin So Soft was very popular. You know, that's the toilette water that is a good repellant, but it has no DEET in it. DEET is diethyltoluamide, it's an active ingredient that it repels insects. But the GI -- the government issued stuff was 75 percent DEET and ethanol. Now, both DEET and ethanol, ethyl alcohol, are what are called percutaneous absorption enhancers. They will suck any medicine right through the skin. They're highly lipid soluble, they'll go right through the skin, and they'll pull each other right through the skin. And so that was a very high risk, and it sure -- Sure enough, the risk factor was exposure to DEET. That is, the guys who were sick, many of them said that they used the government issue insect repellent, where that was fairly less -- much less common in the well guys.
Now, we put this scenario together then in an analysis and found that our three syndrome variants had different risk factor profiles, which made sense, suggesting that different combinations of these chemicals would produce damage to a different part of the brain that would result in slightly different symptoms. And that really hung together.
So we then submitted that to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the top two journals in the country. It went through 8 months of peer review. This was peer reviewed three times. The Journal was being so careful because this is so controversial and our findings were so countercurrent to what people had -- were saying at the time. All nine peer reviewers ultimately signed off on it and agreed that it was meritorious, should be published. It was published then in January of '97.
We followed up now -- We -- We then proposed -- We -- I went up and visited Steven Joseph, I visited a number of people. We then submitted a grant proposal for -- Given -- Given here that we had these clues -- The first epidemic investigation has come out with some really important clues, we weren't saying that this was the answer, but they were important clues that we felt should be followed up. We submitted a grant proposal to repeat this study -- repeatability is the key thing -- wanted to repeat it. We wanted to enlarge upon it in animal -- Oh, I got ahead of myself.
We then -- Concurrently with this, we -- we -- as soon as we saw those risk factors we made a deal with our colleagues at Duke University and Kansas State University and the EPA and put together a -- sort of the dream team of toxicology animal researchers and tested these chemicals in animals. Sure enough, DEET in insect repellants, pyridostigmine, and the pesticides that were implicated in these things singly by themselves did not produce brain injury, but any two of them cause brain injury in animals, and any three cause severe brain injury. Now, this is the first time is -- that we know that chronic long-term permanent brain damage has been shown to occur from combinations of chemicals. That was a unique finding, and has not been disputed, by the way, in the literature. So here we had clinical risk factors, a clue -- neurological tests, a clue of what the disease is, and even a clue of what the cause was. We put in a grant proposal to follow this up with human studies, animals studies, basic chemistry studies and even some treatment trials to start seeing if we could come up with some treatments spinning off this. Absolutely turned down.
Six months, the peer review, the peer reviewers said, we don't believe this theory. There's selection bias and recall bias, and they came up with 15 reasons. And, listen, this was a brilliant, wonderful protocol.
We then went to Ross Perot, and he funded part of it, and then I went up and talked to some -- to members of the -- service chiefs and the Secretary of Defense and others, Senator Rudman, I talked with him, Sam Nunn and others. They felt there was enough here to follow-up, and they gave us a 3 million dollar grant in a -- a cooperative agreement. So we then under -- undertook part of these studies, not all what we wanted to do, but part of them.
We've now finished that, we're getting ready to publish another series of papers, and we haven't published those. In our shop we don't talk about what we found until -- until it's published. Let me just tell you a quick synopsis of what we've done or sort of the main findings that we'll be publishing on without going into the findings.
First of all, we were referred a special forces colonel, and some of you probably know who this is, but he's well known in the military. This is a guy who was -- was a real top performer in the Gulf War. He received several awards for his service in the Persian Gulf war. Within months after the war he was unable to function. He was referred to me by a general officer in Washington who wondered if we could help, given what we had found. So we brought the fellow down. Turned out he had a -- an identical twin. Well, in medicine, as you know, in research an identical twin is gold, because an identical twin is the same DNA, and so ev -- all tests should give exactly the same results on the two people. So we -- so we got the twin to participate, we brought the twin and the -- and the special forces colonel down, brought them down six times to Dallas, and Ross Perot paid the full ticket, about a quarter of a million dollars, and we did every possible test that we could possibly think of, including tens of hours, 20 -- 25 hours in different MRI profusion scans, SPEC scans, brain scans, etcetera. We found brain lesions in this colonel, brain abnormalities in the colonel, and neurological abnormalities, abnormalities -- secondary abnormalities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system that we think account for the symptoms.
We then developed a protocol based on these findings, and we brought back our cases and controls that we did originally from the Seabees' group and put them through the most promising tests, and that cost about a quarter of a million dollars -- I'm sorry, about $2 and a half million. So you see, we put $2 and a half million into the testing of 50 people, rather than putting $500.00 into the testing of 40,000 people. You see the logic? The main things that we're exploring through this, we're -- we are really focusing on trying to find the newest brain imaging techniques that will show where the brain damage is in the brain.
The second major tenet is we're -- we've undertaken a huge array, a huge effort in genetic testing to see if we can find the genetic difference that explains why some people got sick from these chemicals, got a brain injury, and the person standing right next to them didn't. We suspect that there is a genetic difference, that some people are born with -- with high levels of these protective enzymes that chew up these organophosphate chemicals when they get into your blood, and other people have lower -- are just born with lower levels. And normally this difference doesn't bother you until you're exposed to these organophosphates, and then the group with low enzyme levels, they get brain damage because the stuff gets through the blood into the brain. Now, we have several that we're working on, that if those pan out they would be the very enzymes that protect you from Sarin, DEET, pesticides and so forth. If those are the ones that pan out, then that will be very strong evidence that will -- you see, will give us a clue from the other direction, it comes around the other direction, to look at the etiology or the cause of this illness. We've looked this way with risk factors, we're looking this way with genetic predispositions, and if those marry up, then we'll have a very, very strong scientific finding.
Now, in addition, we designed -- we spent a year-and-a-half with about half a million dollars of this money that we got from the Defense Department working with Research Triangle Institute, RTI. And you -- I'm sure you all know RTI, they're the most famous research organization that services the military and -- and other health-related issues. RTI -- We have basically turned our methodology over to RTI. They have put our questionnaires into computer-assisted telephone interview technique. They have drawn a random sample of the sick guy -- of the people who went over and a random sample of the people who didn't go over. Okay? They're going to now -- They are prepared and ready to do a telephone survey that exactly duplicates what we did before, but this time in a truly representative sample of the ones who went over and the ones who didn't go over. We -- We will then compare the -- the frequency or the rate of our syndromes in the deployed veteran group versus the rate in the non-deployed group. We hypothesize it will be ten times or more common in the deployed guys. If that's true, then our hypothesis is confirmed. Moreover, we'll then sub-sample the sick guys and the well guys in each of the groups, bring them to Dallas, do the genetic tests, do the brain tests, and thus corroborate what we're finding in the Seabees, the small little test sample, we'll corroborate it in the ultimate sample, which is a representative sample. You see, this is the -- the old CDC fire drill that no one else has bothered to do.
Now, we -- we presented this plan for this national survey, corroborating survey, replicating survey, we submitted this about a year ago to the defense department through the Fort Detrick procurement process, and it was turned down. We actually submitted two proposals, one to extend our case control study to get a larger number so it would be more significant, you know, the testing that we're doing on the Seabees, and another -- another proposal to -- to do the national survey. Well, guess what the reviews -- the peer reviews said: "Premature to do this national survey until you do a more extended clinical study to show your syndromes really work." And then the other group said: "Well, it's premature to do this extended clinical study until you do a national survey to show that this occurs in more than the Seabees." You get it? Well, it was turned down. It's now in the ash heap at this moment. Now, we're talking to the Defense Department, but right now there's no interest in funding this. Now, we need the Defense Department to collaborate in this because they have the computer files from which we need to generate the random sample. We generated the random samples, but we don't have the names of those samples and the addresses and phone numbers, and only they can give it to us, so we have to collaborate.
Let me tell you, if there's ever going to be a solution to this, it's going to come through science. It's going to come through a case control study that generates a hypothesis, that is publishable in a scientific journal, and then goes to a random sample for corroboration. Let me tell you, we are five years ahead of the rest of the field. Nobody has even started any of this but us, and we're on the ash heap.
We also, under funding from Ross Perot -- I'll just briefly mention -- we have undertaken a whole new set of animal studies. This time instead of hens that we did with Duke, which was the right way to start to show if this was plausible, we're now developing rat models, because in rats if we can -- and we have just successfully done this, we generated now a brain injury from these same chemicals that's not a whopping brain injury like the hens had, you know, that really incapacitates them, this is a subtle behavioral change in rats with no peripheral neuropathy, no massive brain or nerve injury. So we have an injury, chemical injury in rats now that looks very much clinically like the Gulf War syndrome. And we don't know if it is, but at least it's a model that's plausible. We're now starting behavioral and brain studies to try to see where in the brain the injury occurs to see if we can then get clues to match the brain imaging studies we're doing in the veterans.
And finally, treatment. Can brain damage be treated? Well, when we first found this -- this finding and showed Ross Perot, I said to him, I said, "Well, look this is brain damage." He said, "What's the treatment?" I said, "Well, it's brain damage, there isn't a treatment." He said, "Wrong answer. You haven't done anything. Until you find the treatment you haven't done anything."
So I, all disappointed, expecting approval, went back home to the -- to the school and talked with my colleagues and put the word around, you know, "Is there any treatment?" Well, it turns out once you ask that question, there's a -- there's a ton of things you can do. There are new drugs coming along all the time that treat brain damage. There are drugs for Alzheimer's disease, there are drugs for stroke, there are drugs for all kinds of brain injuries, and there are new ones coming out all the time. So as soon as we realized the error of our initial reflex, we started -- we asked Mr. Perot for some additional money, and he gave it to us and we started a clinical trial. This was over a year ago. We've -- We're testing five promising medicines, we've got almost through, they'll be through in June, we'll break the code, analyze the data and see if we've -- see if we've help any of these people. And we've already got a list of five more drugs that we're going to put on the end of this and start another one.
You know, look, let me just finish with this: At the bottom of my handout here I've got -- there are five objectives here to the national research effort. One is, what's the cause of all this illness we see in Gulf War veterans? The second, what's the nature of the injury? And we think it's a brain injury. What's the nature, where does it affect the brain? How does that cause the symptoms? Third, we need a diagnostic test. How do you diagnose it? We've got 150,000 people out there, maybe more, who want to be tested to see if they've got this. Well, we need a diagnostic test. We're well on the way to a diagnostic test if we're right. How do you treat it? What's the way of treating it? How do you make these guys well? Or at least how do you reduce the symptoms so they go along leading a better form of life than they've got now. And then how do we prevent it in the next -- in the next war? We've got to understand it now. This may be very similar to some of the injuries that occurred from Agent Orange. There are a lot of similarities chemical-wise, and this could be something similar.
Well, that's a summary of what I've got. I think if there's one thing I want to leave you with, and that is, we are 2 months away from having all our studies analyzed, final results. We -- We're getting ready to submit papers to journals right now, we'll be submitting some more over the summer. We'll be ready to approach the Defense Department again probably in the middle of the summer with a full deck of cards, ready to present them these findings in a confidential manner without going public before we're published in peer review journals. We need to get this survey going. Somebody's got to break the ice and go survey and see if we can corrob -- corroborate our hypothesis. This is a fairly low-cost deal for -- as surveys go because it's a telephone survey with a cheap follow up. So we might be needing your help when we go talk to the Defense Department, because there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest right now. Well, that's the end of my remarks. Questions?
GENERAL CISNEROS: Well, thank you, Dr. Haley. Yes, we do have some questions, and in view of the time went over, I'd like to try to keep the -- the answers as crisp as possible --
DR. HALEY: I will -- I will answer --
GENERAL CISNEROS: -- in order to -- in consideration of the --
DR. HALEY: Right. I'll answer succinctly.
GENERAL CISNEROS: So do we have a question? Admiral?
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: I have several questions I think you can answer very quickly. First is, is it your hypothesis that -- that chemical weapons on the battlefield is -- is required for each of the three syndrome patterns that you've identified?
DR. HALEY: Our main concern is what's the brain injury right now. Etiology, that first thing there, is not of great concern to us right now.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Okay. In your treatment protocol in your handout that you started in October '98, I assume you use appropriate -- there are appropriate controls, and that's --
DR. HALEY: Yes.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: -- the blind study? Okay.
DR. HALEY: It's randomized, blind, etcetera.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Have you discussed your findings with U. K., United Kingdom, or Canadian forces --
DR. HALEY: Yes, I spoke with the Minister of State for Defense personally about last summer.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: For UK.?
DR. HALEY: Yeah.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: And Canada?
DR. HALEY: Not -- No one up there has called us.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Okay. They have a similar prevalence of -- of Gulf War injuries as we do.
DR. HALEY: Right. Right.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: In your RTI questionnaire survey, are you also going to include a sample of non-Gulf War deployed vets?
DR. HALEY: Yes. We have a random sample of the 700 went over, a random sample of the 3 million who didn't go over.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: No, I was asking non -- deployed vets but not to the Gulf. We had a bunch of vets who've gone to Bosnia and other places.
DR. HALEY: Oh. They -- They will -- Yeah, that's a very good question. We have not decided that yet. We've -- We are thinking about adding another stratum. If so, it would be a third stratum.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: With Somalia and Bosnia. I mean, there's a lot of places that --
DR. HALEY: Yeah. This is something we'd like to negotiate with the Defense Department. Are they really interested? Mainly my -- that is not my interest. My interest is I want to know what's the difference between this group and this group. You know, there are a bunch of nuances we could do, and if the Defense Department is interested we could add stratum, but the key is this versus that.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Well, the nuance, of course, would be --
DR. HALEY: Yeah.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: -- the deployment itself --
DR. HALEY: Sure.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: -- has something to do with this.
DR. HALEY: Yeah.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: And finally, would you be willing to come to D. C. to discuss -- further discuss your hypotheses and proposals with us and with members of health affairs and OSAGWI.
DR. HALEY: Be happy to any time.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: You mentioned four risk factors that were common to the sick, but you only gave us three.
DR. HALEY: Yeah. The fourth one, flea collars. As you know, a number of a people brought flee collars from home. These were pet tick and flea collars that have a pesticide in them. You look on the package cover, there's a skull and cross bones, says, "Do not get on your skin." The reason for that, they have mostly Dursban in them, which is known to produce this same kind of brain injury. Our syndrome I was highly associated with wearing flea collars.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Did they wear flea collars over there? I wasn't aware of that.
DR. HALEY: It was not authorized, and -- and it was discouraged by the military command, but people brought them, and they were underneath the uniforms so they couldn't see them, and so it was hard to police. But I think -- One thing it's important to point out, shortly after our results came out, the military command has -- has changed their -- their -- their doctrine for the use of Pyridostigmine. It's going to -- It's now still in the picture, but I think much more restricted indications. They've eliminated the high potency DEET insect repellant, they've really cracked down on the flea collars. They basically implemented things that if we are right, and, you know, we're -- we're not saying we're right yet, but if we're right, they've already, I think, covered this for the future, which is -- which is -- But -- But there's some other things we need to learn, like the genetic predispositions and other things that I think would be incredibly important in trying to protect our troops from chemical nerve gas in the future, which as you know we're going to see again.
DR. CAM: Yeah. I have a couple of things. My first question is, who keeps the code in your study? My second question is more of a comment. In -- In your reply to the letter to the editor by Jessica Wolfe & Associates in 1998, you had mentioned this: "Simultaneously psychiatrists conducting definitive structured interviews for PTSD in Veteran Affairs' medical centers were finding only rare cases of true PTSD but were not speaking out, presumably inhibited by the public policy." I would like you to elaborate a little bit on that.
And my third question is, in your future study, are you planning on assessing the role of cortisol (inaudible) as a result of the stress as a lot of people have mentioned?
DR. HALEY: Right.
DR. CAM: If you know what I'm talking about.
DR. HALEY: Yeah, this is -- Your -- Your first question, who holds the code. We have a doctor who's a pharmacologist and runs the clinical trial who holds the code.
The whole issue of post traumatic stress disorder, is this due to stress, does it have anything to do with the cortisol theory. First, I don't think there's any credibility at all to the stress theory. That was, I believe, a -- It was a natural thing that doctors jumped at after the war when they saw a bunch of people coming in with real troubling symptoms. They believed the symptoms, but they -- there was nothing wrong in the physical exam and nothing wrong in the laboratory, and they jumped and said this is post-traumatic-stress disorder, I guess. And that then proliferated, and everybody was saying PTSD or somatization disorder. Both of those are absolutely untenable diagnoses. The PTSD thing was built on a -- on a false premise, which I -- I published the journal -- an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology in which I addressed that, Is The Gulf War syndrome Due to Stress, the Evidence Reexamined. If you don't have copies, I can provide that to you. But basically there was a statistical error in 16 studies that were done right after the war by psychiatrists in the military and the VA in which they examined veterans with the Mississippi PTSD scale. It's a psychometric test to detect posttraumatic stress disorder. It's basically 35 questions, and the person answers "yes" or "no" to each -- or marks for each one, and they add them up, and if it's above a certain score you have PTSD. The problem with it is -- I don't know if -- Well, I'm not being succinct. The problem is the analysis of that was -- was completely misinterpreted. None of those showed posttraumatic stress disorder. It was a misinterpretation. So the whole stress argument was brought up for a wrong reason. So therefore, there's nothing to lead us to think that this is due to stress in any way. In all the rhetoric, from the Presidential Advisory Committee particularly, that would say, This has got to be stress and stress related disorder, that is -- there's absolutely no one -- not one shred of evidence that that has happened, could happen. And -- And certainly the cortisol theory, while true in rats, is -- is not known to be true in humans. This is a complete misadventure in my view.
And -- And about the psychiatrists, that was my own personal observation. I've spent a lot of time in Washington talking to the Veterans' Affairs Committee up there and other groups, talking to the psychiatrists who were talking about stress and asked them, "How many of you have really examined these people, performed what's called a structured clinical interview for DSM4 criteria for PTSD," and they all say, "Well, yeah, our guys have been doing it, but they don't really find much by that." Well, that's the standard. That's the gold -- the gold standard for making the diagnosis. The PTSD scales, the Mississippi PTSD scale is a screening test that does not make the diagnosis. You have to have a structured interview to make the diagnosis. When those were done there was almost no PTSD from the Gulf War. This was a misadventure. Well, that's all my time.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Dr. Haley. We're now going to go to individual veteran comments. Again, you're -- like to keep it to 5 minutes each so that if there's any follow along questions. We'll start off with the first person who signed up, Mr. Karl Laine. You're welcome to come up and address the Board.
MR. LAINE: Podium or here?
GENERAL CISNEROS: You can address it from there, sir, either end.
MR. LAINE: Okay. My name is Karl Bruce Laine. I'm a 46 year old, married, and a father of three sons. I've been involved in the aviation industry for 27 years, and I'm currently unemployed due to my declining health. I'm a Vietnam veteran, and I've have had family members in every war since -- since the first war, the American Revolution, and we are a proud and patriotic family. At the time of the Operation Desert Storm I was employed as a military customer support representative for Bell Helicopter supporting MAG 39 at Camp Pendleton. Upon arriving in Saudi Arabia in December 1990, I was informed that our fully mission capable rate was less than 50 percent on our Cobras and our Hueys. As the only rep for the entire Marine -- Marine Corps land forces, I've been told that I played a key role in bringing the fully mission capable status up to 92 percent prior to the ground war. I had a room at the Holiday Inn in Al Jubayl. I've been told that Al Jubayl is the home of the largest conglomeration of petrochemical refineries in the world. I've traveled -- I traveled throughout Saudi Arabia, and when I left that country I had 28,000 miles on my vehicle. I spent many a night in the field with the Marines. On January 15, 1991, I was approached by my AMO -- my AMO, aviation maintenance officer, and requested -- was requested to take the vaccinations, meaning anthrax and pro -- or anthrax and botulism toxoid and a pro -- and the pyridostigmine bromide pills. I initially declined all medications. When the SCUDs started falling, I discussed the situation with my wife, and we agreed that it was probably in my own interests to go ahead and start that. I was not aware that these medications had not been approved for use in humans and that they were considered experimental. I cannot begin to express my anger upon learning of this very important but excluded fact.
I was exposed to the same insecticides and the same sprays, both with the Marine Corps and in and around our hotel. I was not informed of the potential health risks associated with the use of organophosphates and the possible synergistic effect that they might have with other environmental exposures. I was present in Al Jubayl during the SCUD explosion on the 19th of January 1991. I was -- I actually slept through the alarm because of my bad hearing and exhaustion. I was putting in an average of 18 to 20 hours a day. The SCUD exploded within a quarter mile of my hotel. Additionally, I might mention that I was present at the dock when the other SCUD missile landed behind our supply ship approximately about 2 weeks later.
As we prepared for the ground war we relocated forward to Tanajib. We were constantly exposed to the oil well fires that had been started by the Iraqis. I can remember having to stop almost hourly when driving in that area to clean the accumulation off my windshield. As did many other persons involved in the war, I explored the tanks and the destroyed vehicles. I have a videotape that I was going to bring here and present to you. I had problems getting that, but I will mail it to you if you'll still accept that. But that picture shows NCO's instructing their -- their junior enlisted people not to pick up exploded weapons but to have a good time, and I think it would be very interesting for you.
My health began to decline while I was in the Gulf. I started having stomach problems and sleeping problems. Upon my -- my return home I continued to suffer from these symptoms. Additionally I became very irritable and developed joint and muscle pains, headaches, and rashes. I related these physical symptoms to the stresses of work in the aftermath of the very intense 12 and a half weeks in the Gulf. You need to be aware of the important role that we civilians play in the support of our military forces. The services provided to the military by the civilians are the ones that are not addressed in the military infrastructure. Without the support of the civilian technical experts the machinery of war could not be maintained or supported, and we would find ourself in a very uncomfortable position.
I have made it my personal mission to inform civilian defense workers of the possible consequences of injury or illness if they choose to deploy and support their nation in a time of war. Their employer will not care for them and the US Government will not assist them. I seriously doubt that anyone will risk their futures for an indifferent and uncaring government. In December 1991 I was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. In December 1992 I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
In November of 1994 a friend of mine sent me a copy of a message advising all civil service personnel who were suffering Gulf War illness to enroll in the CCEP program. My health problems continue. I suffer from chronic fatigue, cognitive difficulties, mood swings, psoriasis, chronic hepatitis, joint and muscle pains, recurrent fungal infections, impotence, and many others. I have endured multiple surgeries due to the colon cancer, and I was told I would not survive. My medical records document the neurological injury. I've given you all a book there that has all that. It's yours to keep. I would encourage you to look over it. I currently have a disability claim pending in the federal circuit court. The original hearing was on the 10th of November and the judge has yet to make a decision, even though he's had several months to do so.
I'd like to yield the rest of my time, but I would encourage you guys to listen to Dr. Haley. I think he's on the right track. I was less than a quarter of a mile from where those guys from the 24th Seabees were. There's a picture of section 13 of the map of Al Jubayl and you can see it.
I thank God we have people like Dr. Haley that cares enough, and he's still practicing the good old-fashioned medicine, and he's not worried about the money, but he's doing a good job and doing a service for our country.
And we need to think about the things that's going on in Kosovo. I'm a patriotic American, but we have to look at these anthrax shots. You guys know what the enlistment rates are. We're losing our force. This is our country, we're our government, let's take care of our own. I don't want to be a victim. I want my health back. I want what I was before I went to the war. I think the rest of my friends do too, you know. The money is not the issue, we can always make that up, but we need our health back. And thank you very much for your time.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Don't go yet. Thank you, Mr. Laine.
Mr. Laine, I -- I have a question. On -- and I just want to clarify on my record here. When you say you took medications not approved, can you give specific ones that --
MR. LAINE: Yes. I -- I'm talking about the botulism toxoid shots and the anthrax. At those time I understand that those were not approved, and there was never any records in -- or -- or never any shot record or never any notation of those shots being given.
And I'd also like to -- to add to that, I have another friend -- And there is testimony there in court as public information, it's in my documents there, I had a witness that actually came down sick. In 1994 his spleen died, he's been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and this guy only spent 2 weeks there during that time. He was there from the -- from the 4th of January to the 26th, and there was never any documentation. And I can also say that I -- because I was a civilian, I went to my civilian doctor for my typhoid and my cholera, yellow fever, and I've -- because I travel so much I always kept good shot records. I've got three copies of those. And each one of those were documented when I did those. So the only shots that I was given by the military was a gamma globulin and the two courses of the anthrax twice, once in --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Gamma globulin for hepatitis, right?
MR. LAINE: Yeah. That was prior to deployment at Camp Pendleton. And then the botulism toxoid.
And I'd also like to mention -- and I just thought about this, this morning, I got my first shot of the anthrax I believe I said on the 19th. It's in the records. But I was tracked down at Tanajib right before the ground war, and I was told I needed my other shot. So someplace there is records. Because I didn't come forward and say I needed another shot, they came and got me. I don't remember, it was the probably the corpsman or somebody. It might have even been my AMO. Incidentally, I would mention Marine Corps Barry M. Ford, he was one of my AMO's, he wasn't that one, but he's at the Pentagon now and he's running, I think, some -- there was an article in Aviation Space Weekly last week about him. He could verify what I am saying.
GENERAL CISNEROS: You didn't carry your shot record with you to give to them --
MR. LAINE: I did.
GENERAL CISNEROS: -- when they gave you shots and get it back.
MR. LAINE: There was no -- They did not do that. In fact, I'd also add that they had Marines that they were forcing to take the shots. And there was witnesses.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Let me see if there's any other questions. Sir.
MR. LAINE: Thank you very much for your time.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Mr. Laine.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And for the record, where are you from, Mr. Laine?
MR. LAINE: Euless, Texas.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, sir.
Our next veteran to testify or -- a DoD civil servant is Mr. Gerald Sohn. Is that pronounced correctly? Sohn?
MR. SOHN: Yeah, that's close.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay.
MR. SOHN: Actually Sohn if you were in Germany.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Sohn?
MR. SOHN: Sohn if you were in Germany.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay.
MR. SOHN: Well, first -- Well, first I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you guys for being here today. Especially you, Admiral Zumwalt. I served under you during my time of enlistment. It's an honor, sir. Well, my name is Gerald Sohn, and I work as a DoD civilian also for the Corpus Christi Army Depot, and in July of 1990 I volunteered for the -- the Gulf War and was selected as a DoD civilian, DEFCOM Forward Support, Southwest Asia, U. S. Army.
My deployment was effective starting the 9th of December 1990, and this is where I will touch on some of the shots. I began my first series in required shots in July of 1990 at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. This was the basic series for going overseas, and also to include the -- the gamma globulin. Beginning on -- Beginning the 10th of December at the Aberdeen Proving Ground I was completing a series of training, developing -- picking up MOPP gear and etcetera. And -- And also I started receiving a second series of shots while en route to -- en route to the country. And I received again another gamma globulin shot and another shot, I believe they -- it was in the arm.
And after arriving in the Persian Gulf on the 13th of December, I then received -- And I'm sorry. On -- At the 10th of January 1991 I was ordered to the field hospital in Dammam, along -- myself and other civilians and some military for my -- for my third series of shots. One was the A-anthrax and another gamma globulin. This series of shots was -- This series of shots was not recorded. The last series of shots was not recorded on the shot record. When they took -- When I took the first anthrax shot it was not recorded. And then again -- again on the 21st of January 1991 they came to my work site, picked up me and my group and said you're going to report at Dammam. This is where I had the fourth series of shots. And that's where I received the B series of the anthrax, and I believe was another gamma globulin. I'm not sure, because neither one of them was recorded on my shot record or anybody else's. Both -- Both the first and the second round of the anthrax shots were put on a tablet, and it was -- we was not asked to take this shot, "You will take this shot, you're ordered to or you go home." And as a -- DoD civilians, that means, "You're fired."
And I would like to touch on some of the side effects. From the first shot on the 10th of January, I was receiving mild to moderate swelling, painful, in the upper arm. But on the one on the 21st, I had an extreme case of swelling, constant pain up in the upper arm. Went through some very severe discomfort, and this lasted for approximately about 3 months. And I may add that our sergeant major was -- or one of the black guys, that their shots, they had severe, severe reactions. Now, whether it was because -- or whatever. And then the other -- there was another black guy there, then he had some trouble. Well, the sergeant major, that night we had to take and cut his shirt off. It got pretty bad.
Let me move on here to the pills, the PB pills. On the morning of the war, on the air war, we were ordered to take the pills that were issued to us in Aberdeen Proving Ground. I carried two packages of the pills with me; that's what we were issued. I -- I was ordered to take one pill every 4 hours until the pills were gone, and after the pills were gone, then we were able to go back to the -- to the CP, which was in Dammam, SASCO, and pick up as many as we needed. They were just laid out for anybody to pick up. And I remember picking up another two packages, because I did go through the two packages of pills. And I was a very, very busy person because I had pretty much Khobar, Dammam Air Base that I was responsible for. And I remember taking some of the pills from the third packet, but I don't believe I took anything from the fourth packet. And the side effects that I had from the pill was severe headaches, onset of headaches. As a matter of fact, I haven't got rid of them yet. And that's about as much as I can say about the pills. Like I say, we were ordered to take the pills -- I mean the PB pills. It was not an option, "You will take these pills," and that was it. And I didn't question, I followed their orders and -- as a good soldier would do, and off I went.
Now, to talk about the chemical alarms. We did have the alarms to go off, and in our compound they went off, and after about 3, 4, 5 days they -- they typical, they turned them off. It was -- The explanation was it was the -- triggered by the dust, the diesel fuel, exhaust, whatever, but they turned them off and that was the end of that. Then they -- Then they ordered us to use the tape, the chemical tape that you put on your uniform, on your buildings, and stuff like that. I don't even remember the outcome of that. It was kind of nobody monitored it or anything, they just kind of like went away, but -- I don't want to get ahead of myself.
Well, my personal -- my personal belief about the alarms, the chemical alarms, they had a definite reason for going off, because in our area we were, well, towards the ends of Dammam. Most of our SCUDs came in between 10:00, 11:00 o'clock at night to 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. in the morning, and most of the time when our compound was calm there was no traffic, there was no diesel, very, very limited. The only time the SCUDs went off -- I mean the alarms went off is when we had a SCUD attack. And we had something like 27 SCUDs in our area. So --
But that's -- that's -- that's all I can say about the PB pill. But on the 26th of February I was close to maybe quarter of a mile, half a mile from where the -- the barracks that killed all of the reserves, and it happened roughly around 7:00 p.m. that night. What puzzled me about that, and it still does, is that we witnessed the first -- the first Patriot. The first Patriot went up, the white smoke, missed the target immediately. The second Patriot, black smoke, it hit its mark. Well, you kind of relaxed after that because you think it knocked the SCUD. Well, seconds after that there was a secondary explosion, and that's the one what hit -- supposedly hit the barracks. But I'm not clear on was it the fuel tank or the war head that hit -- That's -- That's what's confusing to a lot of us, what -- what actually took the barracks out. And I don't know the answer to that, but I'm thinking it was -- I'm thinking it was not the fuel tank that hit the ground, it was -- it was the -- the war head, for the simple reason I did spend 2 years in Vietnam, and I'm quite familiar with a 500 or 1,000 pound bombs. So that's what all I can say on that.
And we talk about the oil wells. Being downwind from the oil wells and they'll stretch as far as -- It's truly a nightmare. I had a lot of side effects. I got -- We had nosebleeds. You couldn't get the stuff out of your hair. It got into your system, made you nauseated, had watery eyes, and a very sick feeling. This stuff just stuck to you. And how they can say they went over and tested all this stuff and there was nothing -- no fallout from this stuff, I don't understand that. They -- I guess the guys who did the testing probably wasn't there. But that's about what I can say on the oil wells.
But I -- I was -- I was in a unique situation. I was a ready reserve at the time, and my reserve unit released me to go with DEFCOM Forward on a special mission to do a project. I went over and built a mess hall, restored some buildings, you know, for troop support. And I left the night the war ended, March the 1st. I didn't even know the war ended, I was in Spain when I was watching CNN, but I immediately came home to recall to active duty with -- with -- my assistant was our -- We were an assistant battalion of Battalion 24, and I was with 22 out of Dallas. And, again, they needed me back to help them mount out. And immediately coming home that night I -- I didn't quite notice this, but I had taken a shower, getting ready because the next morning I'm heading for Dallas. At that -- I was covered -- I had a lot of blisters all on the front of my stomach and on my legs, which these stayed with me for about -- about 3 months, little tiny blisters. I don't think they were sweat bumps. And I'm going to yield the rest of my time to anybody that --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Mr. Sohn. You're currently employed in Corpus you said.
MR. SOHN: Yes, sir, Corpus Christi Army Depot, Corpus Christi, Texas, yes, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yes, sir.
Any questions, sir (Admiral Zumwalt)?
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: No.
MR. SOHN: Okay. Well, thanks again.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: We thank you.
Our next presenter is a Mr. Juri Koern or Koern.
MR. KOERN: You got it.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. A DoD civil servant employed deployed to the Gulf also.
MR. KOERN: Yes, sir. I was deployed over with Gerald Sohn. My name is Juri Koern, and I spent -- I'm a retired Army veteran, I spent 3 years -- I beg your pardon. I spent 3 years in Vietnam, did -- did three tours, and I also spent 13 months in the Persian Gulf from 9 December to 23 December '91.
I was with the U. S. Army support group. Our command supported the (inaudible) of these corps. We had assigned to our group 3,100 DoD civilians. We also had 1,230 military personnel assigned to our command. My job was, I had a four-play title. I was operations officer, training officer, I was security officer and procurement officer and a scrounge to get ammunitions and weapons and stuff like that that we had to get for others.
I want to cover some things what went on up to and that point. Prior to departing the US we had three physicals here in country. And a Naval air station hospital required -- We took the series of shots that everybody had to take to go to that particular part of the country. I took 13 different shots in a 2-week period prior to departing. When we -- When we arrived at Aberdeen we had to take five more shots, and two of them they wouldn't tell us what they were. They were recorded, but they wouldn't stamp them off in our records.
When we arrived in Saudi Arabia on January 10th and January 20th we received our first anthrax, botulism shots 2 weeks time, and again, the same thing, they were not re -- They were recorded on a master roster. They said they'll keep a -- keep a record of it for them, but we never got them -- but when we handed our shot records to them to get them stamped off and get them entered they wouldn't do it. And they were -- we were under orders to go there to get these shots. In other words, they almost put armed guards on us. Not on me particular, because I was -- I was ex-army and I was willing to take it, I had no problems with it. But some people refused. And they were almost under armed guard taken to the doctor and made to take those shots.
What -- What the outcome of those shots were was that both times causing fatigue, severe fatigue, swelling of the joints and arms where we took the shots, severe headaches, joint pains, sleeping problems, and things of this nature, and it continued on, it didn't go away. Then during the air war, we learned to listen to BBC, British Broadcasting. They gave us more accurate directions of incoming SCUDs coming from Saudi Arabia, because our American stations wouldn't broadcast it for security reasons. BBC was telling us where they were coming from, what direction, and then we knew that they were coming towards us.
Anyway, with my travels over there during the war and before -- during the war I was exposed to about 37 SCUDs that were approximately overhead after the explosions and after the mess and all this stuff coming down on us. It left a yellowish, grayish mist on all our tents and all our equipment. Vehicles, personnel, everything was outside after the SCUD exploded and after the weather cleared. And one funny thing he mentioned was that prior to the war, prior to the SCUDs falling, we had all kinds of fly problems and fly infestations and mosquitoes and birds all over the place. Funny thing happened after the SCUDs started falling and after the mist, no more birds, no more flies. Our Depot was next to a camel -- how would you say -- sales yard that had a sale every Thursday night. It used to be infested with flies prior to the air war. After that, all of a sudden, no flies, everything is hunky-dory, they're all gone.
After the first SCUD hit, we had a command order to start taking our PB bills, one every 4 hours, for the duration of the war, don our MOPP suits when the alarms sounded, and also as mentioned, our MA-1 chemical detect -- detectors were going off approximately 4 to 5 times a day after the SCUDs -- after the SCUD attacks. Then after the sixth day they finally just shut them off.
Two days prior to the end of the war, I witnessed a SCUD hitting the support compound, killing 33 and burning 98. The -- the SCUD was hit by a second Patriot missile about 2 miles up. I got -- witnessed it with Mr. Sohn, and it exploded up in the air, we saw the stream of fire coming down, and it hit the ground and exploded again. At that time I was about a block and a half away. I didn't know we had a compound in there. I found out 2 hours later when the ambulances and everybody started coming that that place was occupied by our troops.
After the war ended, I was in -- like I say I was there 13 months. After the war ended, I was in Kuwait between rings 5 and 6, a place called Death Valley -- Death Valley, evaluating the damage and were -- were approximately 35 -- 35,000 vehicles, including tanks and vehicles, and close to 100,000 Iraqis dead soldiers were laying. Up to this point we were still not aware of depleted uranium -- this was after the war ended -- or type of munitions used on Iraqi troops. I did observe some shells and artillery rounds with greenish blue Russian markings on them in that convoy in Death Valley and in other places in Kuwait. Later on it was determined through interpreters and through mine books -- mine identification books that these were Russian nerve agent shells and weapons. And we also find some -- found some chemical mines in the -- the Iraqi mine fields that were -- of US descent, our own chemical mines.
During the war and after, we observed area -- areas of camels and sheep carcasses in Saudi, Kuwait and inside the Iraqi borders near fields where heavy shelling had taken place previously and near Basra. While all of the above was going on, we were -- well, this is -- We were exposed to fly-borne contamination. Then after the SCUDs no more flies, but sand fleas remained. Sand fleas, what they were talking about the dog collars, a lot of us were wearing them as boot blouses because the sand fleas get in-between the boot and your pant leg and eat up your way up, and it's horrendous. So we were wearing collars as boot blouses, and it helped.
Then the other thing is sand fleas, pesticides, foggers, decontamination kit, radiation, impregnated clothing. Every -- every bit of the clothing that we originally -- all the uniforms we had to wear, they were all impregnated with chemicals. We -- We had to use -- The first MOPP suit lasted a month and we were issued another one, and we used that for 2 more weeks.
Again, BBC informed us that Iraq had torched 930 oil wells, contrary to the 600 they're saying right now, and booby trapped them with mines and that it would take 3 to 5 years to put them out. This was BBC broadcasting. And -- But by mid-October '91 the fires were out, and until General Pagonis had a large ceremony with the last fire that was to be put out, he invited all the heads of state and the order was put out, "No military uniforms allowed at this ceremony, because he wants it to look like it's all done by civilians." Anyway, I didn't go, I didn't have time.
In July in Camp Doha, the M1-A1 tank, 120 millimeter rounds started exploding and burned for 4 days. I was part of the AMC evaluation team on building damage. After this incident, we were made aware of the DU, depleted uranium and the dangers of it. On July 23, '91 I was admitted to 23rd -- 22nd field hospital in Dhahran with a viral infection and 105.9 temperature, 106 degree temperature.
After 7 days I recovered but kept having recurring symptoms of fatigue, sleeping problems, headaches, flu, joint pains.
Now to back up a little bit, after the war I was assigned to Army Material Command as Chief of Real Estate, Southwest Asia, GS-12, with the responsibilities to close and turn over back to the Saudi government 91 staging areas that our troops used, 28 supply depots, billets, three sea ports, six airports, four hotels, eight compounds with housing, villas, and the Olympic Village where I lived at. They were all located in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and UAE, United [Arab] Emirates.
During the clean up and salvage phases my job was exposed to many more spills, chemical cocktails to include inhalation of oil fires for 9 months, clogging of our lungs and coughing up black mucus constantly. Oil was in our food and our clothing and our equipment. One little moot point, Ms. Lashof, who testified to the President here a couple of years back said the oil fires only burned for 1 or 2 days and the smoke went straight up in the air. So that must have been a miracle on her part, the testimony. But anyway, also on the 10th of March '91, I was in Kuwait preparing billets for the 27 SUBCOM when the Khamisiyah Weapons Depot was destroyed, and we were in the footprint or in the pattern, or the CIA pattern, that we were exposed to the chemicals and biological agents that were released from Khamisiyah.
Little bit of patting myself on the back. I'm proud to let you know that I was the highest decorated DoD civilian in that conflict. I was put in for the Bronze Star, but they decided a civilian shouldn't have Bronze Stars, so they gave us a Superior Civilian Service Award Medal from General Tuttle, and with an additional eight medals, three from the Saudi government, two of the Saudi medals were sent directly to President Bush, sixteen Certificates of Achievement and eight Letters of Appreciation. I also by fact and by -- by documentation saved the government $7-and-a-half million.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Mr. Koern, excuse me, we're -- we're --
MR. KOERN: I'm done.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah.
MR. KOERN: About 2 more seconds.
GENERAL CISNEROS: No, but I'd like to -- Go -- Go ahead, sir.
MR. KOERN: A year after exposures and 8 years of illness I firmly believe that the Iraqis were using the Soviet doctrine, the biological cocktail, as reported by prisoners of war, defectors, and by our own intelligence agencies. Now, I won't go into what the biological cocktail is, that's available reading. And the other point was, again, no birds and no flies after the -- after the SCUDs.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Mr. Koern. Also if you'd like, if you didn't get a chance to finish all of it, we'd -- you're welcome to submit a copy of your testimony so we have the complete portion of it.
MR. KOERN: I'll be glad to send it to you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Did you finish it all?
MR. KOERN: A --
GENERAL CISNEROS: And if you didn't, you can leave a copy with us and include all your testimony in there.
MR. KOERN: No, I pretty well covered what I wanted to say.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: I have a question. Did you see any dead birds or flies?
MR. KOERN: Absolutely. And I also checked the camels and the sheep herds that we saw that we passed just -- just prior to the ground war and after. I went over to see if there was any -- any shrapnel wounds or any bullet wounds, like -- like the people killed them or shot them; there was nothing. And, again, the areas were devoid of any kind of animal life.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Did they brief you on the fuel used by the SCUD missiles that they -- the uses -- that red fuming nitric acid? One of the testimonies about that too. That's why, there was red fuming nitric acid in -- it was used in those -- in those missiles. It wasn't a solid propellant, it was a liquid propellant.
MR. KOERN: No, they didn't.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah. And that -- A lot of that spray was -- It was pretty deadly, because I dealt with it when I was a missile commander. We used red fuming nitric acid.
MR. KOERN: They probably are aware of what the Russians -- in the doctrine what they had, how to -- how to inject the -- the biological chemical stuff into the rockets that they were firing at us.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Also one question. Did -- Did you know of anybody who took an anthrax shot that it was recorded on their shot record?
MR. KOERN: I know 3,000 some people almost that didn't -- they didn't -- didn't get it recorded in their shot record. Later on we were -- I beg your -- Later on we were given slips, said, "Paste this in your shot record: 'This individual while serving in Southwest Asia took series anthrax A-1 and A-2.'"
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay.
MR. KOERN: I still have copies of those slips.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Any questions?
Thank you, Mr. Koern.
MR. KOERN: You're welcome.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And one more witness before we take our break.
Mr. James Hager.
SFC HAGER: General Cavazos [sic], Admiral Zumwalt, distinguished board members, my name is James H. Hager. I am 45 years old, married, and a father of two sons and a daughter. I retired from the United States Army after 21 years of service. I was deployed from Augsburg, Germany in December 1990 to the Persian Gulf. I deployed with the 218th Military Police Company, VII Corps, and was further attached to the 1st Armored Division Military Police Company during Desert Storm. We traveled from Saudi Arabia to Iraq to Kuwait -- excuse me -- by HMMWV. We were housed in military tents in the Saudi, Kuwait, and Iraqi deserts; no Holiday Inn. Served as the advanced guard brigade of the 1st Armored Division in offensive operations against the Iraqi Republican Guard Forces Command during Operation Desert Storm, February 1991 as an attached company to the 1st Armored Division MP Company, 1st Brigade, consisting of 1-7 Infantry, 4-7 Infantry, 4-66th Armor, 1-1 Cavalry, 2nd of the 41st Field Artillery, 16th Engineer Battalion, and the 26th Forward Support Battalion. The 1st Brigade led the 1st Armored Division and VII Corps' main attack against the Republican Guard Forces Command. Excuse me.
On 25 February the brigade conducted a 113 kilometer movement to contact and destroy elements of the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division, resulting in the capture of 299 enemy prisoners of war. On February 26th the brigade was ordered to attack east to gain contact with and destroy the Republican Guard Forces Command in zone. The 1st Brigade began an aggressive and continuous movement to contact, which covered 74 kilometers in 12-and-a-half hours.
While fighting multiple engagements throughout the day and night with elements of the 52nd, 17th, ADNAN, and TAWAKALNA Divisions -- I may not have pronounced that right. That's Iraqi -- during one engagement with the TAWALKALNA division, the brigade destroyed 27 Iraqi T-72's, which had established a hasty defense.
On 27 February the brigade was ordered to transition to the pursuit to establish with and destroy the Republican Guard Forces Command forces in zone. As the brigade attacked and fought through the ADNAN divisions, it secured a major Republican Guard Forces Command logistics' base, captured 465 enemy prisoners of war and made contact with the Medina Armored Division, which was augmented by elements of four other Iraqi divisions. A fierce battle ensued, culminating in the destruction of 82 tanks, 31 armored personnel carriers, 11th -- 11 artillery pieces, 48 trucks, and 2 AAA guns and the capture of 72 EPWs (enemy prisoners of war).
At the conclusion of the war, the 218th Military Police Company was ordered to go to Basra, Iraq and establish Check Point Charlie on a major highway between Basra and Baghdad, approximately 250 kilometers from Baghdad. Our mission was to search all vehicles and contents of the vehicles, to include -- to include persons for weapons, contraband, and deserting soldiers, at which time we seized enemy deserters and contained them at an EPW holding area.
The searches consisted of searching deceased casualties of the war. These were bodies they were bringing back to take to Baghdad. We were ordered to search the coffins and plastic they had them wrapped -- or whatever they were in. Some of them were wrapped in cardboard. Causes of the death unknown.
During the night, through night vision equipment, I observed tracer rounds behind our position, at which time I informed my command the tracer rounds were from Iraqi forces engaging with the Kurd forces. That's what we were told. We utilized -- we utilized Yukon and potbelly stoves in our tents, which required diesel fuels to operate them. Consistent use of repellants and insecticides and fly bait were used, pesticides for areas and personal -- personal use was used. Rodents, mosquitoes and flies were rampant. Meals were served in marmite cans, which many occasions were unsecured and exposed to the environment; flies, mosquitoes, sand, dust, and other elements. A fog generator was used to camouflage our position. The fog generators made breathing difficult. PB pills were given and orders issued to take them, and we did. I took them as instructed. Shortly after taking the PB pills, I started having headache and stomach nausea. On many occasions during my deployment, the NBC alarms were activated. While based in Saudi prior to ground war, a SCUD missile landed approximately 25 miles -- miles from my location.
During deployment, my platoon and I cleared several enemy bunkers. There were dead Iraqi military soldiers, weapons such as AK-47's, and other equipment. In fields all around me were mass graves, which body parts were visual -- visible. Iraqi convoys carrying equipment, supplies, and deceased soldiers were visual as I traveled from position to position.
Land mines were observed throughout the operation. On one occasion I witnessed an explosion caused by a land mine to a vehicle directly in front of me, a vehicle trailer to be specific. I saw many American and enemy vehicles which were disabled due to land mine explosions. Several occasions our convoys were halted due to incoming enemy artillery fire. I observed numerous enemy munitions, i.e., rocket-propelled grenade launchers, burning tanks, etcetera. Personally viewed extensive stockpiles of munitions, some unknown, other infantry-type weapons. I observed low flying friendly aircraft, which was bombing nearby enemy tanks and enemy positions. Strong smells of various fuels were in the air.
At one of my positions I was stationed in the burning oil fields in Kuwait and Iraq, somewhere in that area. At times breathing was very difficult, that my soldiers and I would don our protective masks in order to keep from breathing the oil, smoke, and sand. And in the middle of the day, the burning oil fields caused the atmosphere to change drastically. It would turn into storm, windy conditions, go from daylight to dark in a matter of seconds. My NBC suit was worn for several weeks over the top of my BDU uniform.
While deployed, I kept headache and experienced stomach disorders, diarrhea, etcetera. My gums started swelling and bleeding. At the time, I attributed it to -- to brushing in the desert environment, cleaning up in the desert -- desert environment. I also observed skin rash lesions on my body. I attributed that to the environment as well and thought it would go away. Upon returning, I experienced frequent headaches; rash; lesions over my body; my gums bleeding, and they're now severe, severe bone loss in my mouth, and I've lost approximately five teeth, losing more; joint and muscle pain daily, and daily fatigue; memory loss -- That's why I'm reading these notes -- flu symptoms; stomach disorder; high blood pressure; blurred vision; low immune and allergy problems; cannot tolerate chemical odors; have trouble sleeping; difficulty concentrating; nausea; have become very sensitive to light; and I have chest tightness.
My wife and daughter, who are here tonight, also have experienced problems. My daughter has fatigue; abdominal problems; recently has been found to have two disc bulges in her spinal area, one very large, which has affected her movement, she cannot bend and touch her toes, walking is difficult; she has a long immune -- She has a low immune system. My wife has bone loss in her gums and has many dental problems now as well. She has fatigue; a low immune system; bowel and stomach problems; frequent flu-like symptoms; joint and muscle pain; as well as fatigue; memory problems; blurred vision.
In conclusion, I would like to say the Board, I -- first of all, I appreciate y'all being here. Will the people who served in the Gulf War have to wait 20 years or die, as many of the Vietnam vets did with Agent -- Agent Orange, before receiving the proper care needed to combat these illnesses, which were given during our dedication and service to our country? I feel that time is running out. We need assistance, not study after study or hearing after hearing to determine if we need the medical help. By then it will be too late. And I'd just like to say: Do the right thing. And I'll yield the rest of my time, if I have any left, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Mr. Hager. You're retired Army?
SFC HAGER: Yes, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And therefore, you are subject and eligible for medical -- CHAMPUS or --
SFC HAGER: I do have --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah, VA.
SFC HAGER: -- VA.
GENERAL CISNEROS: You have service on a VA, but you also have CHAMPUS or the other medical --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah, Tricare. Yeah, well, not everybody signs up for Tricare.
SFC HAGER: Which I'm not. I didn't sign up for that.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah. There's a -- Let me see if there's any questions.
DR. CAM: When did your daughter and your wife start having these problems?
SFC HAGER: I would say almost immediately upon my return, which was in April of '90 -- '91. Not too long after, just months after that --
DR. CAM: And they still --
SFC HAGER: -- it all started --
DR. CAM: And they still have those problems now?
SFC HAGER: Yes, they do.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Any other questions? Your -- You -- Describe some illness that your daughter has.
SFC HAGER: Yes, she has constant stomach pains. Right now she's -- We don't know why, but she's developed -- she has something wrong with her -- her lower spine. It's like two discs that are -- that are basically bulging, and she's seeing a neurologist for that. And he's --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Was she born -- Was she born before? I don't know her age.
MRS. HAGER: After.
SFC HAGER: After.
GENERAL CISNEROS: After? Okay.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Would you -- Would you leave a copy of your statement with us or mail one to us, please.
SFC HAGER: Yes, sir.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: And, in fact, for the other speakers that I didn't ask that, would you provide us with a copy of your statements as well, please.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Hager.
SFC HAGER: Thank you all. (Applause)
GENERAL CISNEROS: Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be taking a break now until 2030, 8:30 p.m., so that's about 12 minutes.
(Short break taken.) Break taken.]
GENERAL CISNEROS: All board members are present, and we'll now resume our -- our hearing. Our next presenter will be retired Sergeant Michael Hood.
SGT. HOOD: Yeah, good evening. I'm going to kind of throw a monkey wrench in -- in your system, because I'm coming from -- you know, from the Gulf War view at a different angle, and want to apologize to the committee right now, because I have a very, you know, difficult, you know, thing I've got to say, you know, in a very short period of time. And thank you Admiral -- Admiral Zumwalt for letting me speak.
Well, I went to the Gulf in February through May 1988, and I was there when the Kurds got -- got bombed. And I am -- I was at the time COC, which was the Combat Operations Center at ELF-1 in Riyadh. And my job was to supervise the Combat Ops Center flight operations dealing with AWACS and the whole -- you know, the whole stretch of the thing. And then one night we had to piece together the sit rep, you know, the mis[sion] rep for the situation report.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Situation report.
SGT. HOOD: There was gaps in it. Guys from AWACS literally left bits and pieces.
So one day I was on the way to -- to the BX, just riding the bus, you know, just having a good day off, developed a runny nose with a lot of burning. Then after a while, you know, it happened again. Then time passed, I was called into the clinic. Then, you know, when the Gulf War called up, I was in Osan, Korea wanting to go back to Riyadh, you know, work with my team and everything, and they wouldn't release me.
So one day when I was starting to out-process to go to McChord for my last duty assignment and my retirement, they called in, and I thought, "Man, I'm going to Bosnia," but they said, "Well, you're going to Riyadh. Do you want to volunteer or get volunteered?" One looks better on paper.
So by the time I got there we had, you know, a short period of time. My crew mate Dave Childs, he -- he left in 8 days. I got my orders on 25th January 1993. They told me all my uniforms, everything would be provided for me, Cam suits, the whole nine yards, would be, you know, waiting for me in Riyadh. We made a stop after Philadelphia, Dhahran, and after we waited around, nobody said anything about, you know, anything going on in the Gulf, no briefings, no nothing. Got to Riyadh, went to Eskan Village, was waiting to get our baggage and everything, and all of a sudden felt like somebody had ran a butane lighter up my spine. It seemed like the spinal fluid had just literally started burning. And nobody gave us a briefing, nobody -- You know, just the standard briefing you get, you know, induction, you know, where you going, how things work. Got down to J-3 at the (inaudible) headquarters where I worked. No briefing.
Then next thing I know about, 7 March, I started, you know, feeling fluid running out of my ears. The left one was bleeding. Didn't go to the clinic, you know, doing my John Wayne thing, you know. No big deal, right? No bullet holes, no -- no problem. Well, little did I know, about that time everything started running its course. I went to the clinic, was put on quarters, had a temperature about 99, went back that evening, had a temperature 103.8, put on quarters, and literally, practically for all intents and purposes, died in that room in -- in the villa. I don't know what happened, what, you know, what miracle took place, but here I am. Basically I looked like a human water fountain. I had blood running out of my -- out of my lungs, out of lower extremities, legs didn't work, nothing worked.
Went out-processed, you know, got all medical documents, came back, went to -- You know, my home base was Bergstrom. Went to Colonel Adams, went to turn all the paperwork in, you know, follow the instructions, Colonel Adams says, "No problem, don't want to see you."
I went back to work at 12th Air Force literally falling apart, literally lived in the bathroom, sweating, diarrhea, you know, the whole nine yards. So, basically, to get exercise I walked from 12th Air Force basically over to my house on Packard Street, you know, which is about 2 blocks. Literally died going home, you know, like a daily process. And one day got home, body was so torn up, I literally went in the bathroom, stripped all my clothes off, turned on the shower and put a fan in there just to cool off.
But when my body finally broke down, they shipped me off to Wilford Hall, said they were going to give me an exam. That evening they put me in mental health for 20 -- 23 days, and just constantly runaround, no medication, just Tylenol. My vision went, my joints finally collapsed, and pretty much the rest is history, because I went in there, got out July 23rd of '93. December '93 vision problems. I was going down I-35 coming back from -- you know, back to Lackland, and the highway literally split in half, so I went straight to the clinic, had, you know, CT.
Then July '94 rolled around I was put in the CCP, so I'm one of the original 10, the CCP at Wilford Hall. Diagnosis changed. They said I wasn't sick in the Gulf, I never told anybody I was sick. You know, everything I was documented, they kind of like turned it around on me. So if Steve -- If I'd gotten my hands on of Steven Joseph -- I was trying to -- trying to figure out how I was going to undo everything that was did. And so I literally put this together; this right here is my whole medical history, and there's another binder like this from the VA. So literally they spent $2 million on me. I just turned in all my diagnoses, and I carry the medical code 799-9, which is Gulf War -- you know, the code it Gulf War Syndrome, which is undiagnosed illness, and just got denied by Waco. They literally say I don't have Gulf War illness, and it's all documented.
And -- So when you hear guys talking about, you know, being in the Gulf after 1991, I have literally met more than my share of people that has a Gulf War illness. And in 1997, I'm sad to say, one of the guys who worked from services, was all over, you know, Saudi Arabia, him and his brother served in the Gulf the same time, one has died. He literally got off of work in January or February at Sheppard, sit on the side of the road and died because nobody listened to him. And we had to sit there and explain to his brother at the McDonald's right outside Sheppard what he needed to do next for himself. So had -- had face-to-face discussions with Dr. Roswell -- Dr. Rostker and just about everything else. And literally this right here does a lot. This, you know, literally carries my medical history.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Sgt. Hood, let me ask you now, because we're out of time now, you did meet with Dr. Rostker you said?
SGT. HOOD: At Garland Town Hall meeting and at Fort Sill. And General Bassett literally heard every word I said, because I literally took over the town hall meeting at Fort Sill.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Did you provide him a copy of your records or this issue there or are you going to leave us a -- Do you have any --
SGT. HOOD: I'm going to mail it to you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. And you have our address?
SGT. HOOD: I'll get it.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah, it was up there. Okay. You can see one of the staff, they'll know what's there.
SGT. HOOD: And so not taking up anymore time. When I literally witnessed my crew being -- walking out of Saudi with brain damage because we had an airman 1st who was doing the mis[sion] rep couldn't use a calculator. He couldn't even add 2 plus 3. That was the saddest thing I said, because he went back to McChord, Washington and literally walked out of the Air Force. So I don't know where all these people are, you know, post-Desert Storm, but it was a good chunk that came out of Riyadh in '93 sick.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Sgt. Hood, have you talked to any with the veterans' affairs personnel.
SGT. HOOD: I have been, especially -- but, you know, lack of a better word, it's more like a goat rope (?), because I went -- I started at Audie Murphy, Temple, Dallas, and now I'm at the Oklahoma City VA. I just had to do the best I could, you know, in a short period of time.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. I want to make sure we get a copy of your documentation of your case, and also there's some Veteran Affairs' personnel here that are present while you're here.
SGT. HOOD: Okay. Right. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Thank you, Sgt. Hood.
Okay. Next is Sergeant First Class Tyrone Johnson. That's not working, sir? (re: microphone).
SFC JOHNSON: First of all, let me say good evening. Thank you for allowing me to speak tonight. My name is Tyrone Johnson, sergeant first class, US Army, retired. I retired after 18 years, post-Gulf War, due to the fact of the illness, that I felt that I needed to end my career before I was put in a situation, because of the physical requirements that I would end up losing my retirement. So after 18 years I decided to take the -- put in for the early retirement. I spent December 26, 1990, through May of 1991 in the Gulf War.
And before I go any further, I'd like to address the fact that I was a 91 Charlie, licensed vocational nurse, for my whole military career. And the things that we're saying that are being addressed and what they're doing with the Gulf War veterans is truly unfair. Since my time of returning I have suffered most of these illness -- the joint weakness, muscle weakness, dizziness, memory loss.
And I want to just tell you a little bit of what the rationale of what they're trying to do as far as re-diagnosis: My memory loss was a learning disorder. My muscle weakness with elevated CPK -- which is the muscle enzyme breakdown -- my muscle weakness came from being black. Joint disease? Yes, you have degenerative joint disease. My CPKs have been -- has ran as high as 900's, in the 900 levels, with no one being able to explain to me why my muscles are breaking down.
In 1996 I ended up in the veterans' hospital with a cardiac cath because of the chest pain and the tight -- chest tightness, and then the elevated CPKs, they rushed me in and the next morning right into a cardiac cath. But yet still to today, and this is where my concerns is at, is that with the bureaucracy, what has happened over the last 2 years is, my case to be evaluated for the Gulf War has gotten tied up in Washington, DC, and each time I request for a status on my disability it says that it is in Washington, DC. I requested they submit my record -- bring my records back to the regional office here so that my other disability requests can be evaluated. But Washington, DC, fails to respond. They say they cannot make them respond.
And so as all of this time has gone on, my condition continues to be the same, getting worse. The only thing that has improved is my memory; it has slightly gotten better. That's because I continue to retrain myself. And when I came out, it was like the problems that I was having is like I became illiterate, and I am a person with college and with degrees and who has been in the nursing field, who has worked intensive care in all of the Army major medical centers, Walter Reed, Tripler Army Medical, just to speak of the two. And while at Walter Reed was the nurse of the year at Walter Reed. And so the things that are happening and the things that are going on, they're saying that they're undiagnosed and nobody can relate. I've had several diagnoses that has been changed and called to something else.
But the main thing is what I'm concerned is that the tie up, what are we going to do for us? The black smoke, the burning oils, I stayed there through May, we breathed it every day, we coughed it out, we spit it out, we ate it, everything. Any time you would blow your nose, you blew out black tar. Okay? This continued up for at least a month after returning from the Gulf War. Not only did we deal with the fact that we had the oil fields that was coming down on our hospital, the smoke from the oil fields that covered our hospital, in late January we was -- we were so far forward, because the ground troops were still behind us. And as a combat support hospital we were far forward so that when the ground war took off that they could move forward behind -- and pass us and go forward and we would be in place to support them.
And we watched, over our camp, while standing in formation on this particular day, which we was approximately at that time 12 miles from Iraq, coming out of Iraq, across the sky, a burning red cloud. This is in 1:00 o'clock, approximately 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon, beautiful sunny day, a red streak coming across the -- across the sky, turning the sky from a -- from a burning orange to a red, and as it passed over our hospital it turned the sky to a complete black and poured down. The complete hospital at that time is standing in formation with no MOPP gear nowhere by us. Okay? And at that day the only thing that they did after this went over us and when -- and the alarm to -- onto the left of the hospital at that time, to the far side closest to the Iraq side, the alarm did alarm. So the only thing that they did is, "Go to your tents." Okay? And these are the things that we went through, and this is what we did. And I'd just like to know what -- what are we going to do for the veterans?
GENERAL CISNEROS: First of all, thank you, Sergeant Johnson. Is your -- Is your situation -- Is it -- Is it -- with the VA, have -- is your case before them? Have you filed a -- You said you've contacted and had some problems getting your disability requests. That's being handled by the VA?
SFC JOHNSON: It is handled by the VA, but what happens is, is right now for my Gulf War evaluation, it is in Washington, DC, under a special review.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Board of appeals.
SFC JOHNSON: No board of appeals. This is -- This is a -- some type of special review that I'm being told.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. We have some VA representatives here. And I would like the opportunity while they're here and you're here, is to -- is to present your case so -- so we can get a follow-up from them about looking into where the case stands.
SFC JOHNSON: Well, I speak to the regional office on a -- on a daily basis. I continue to ask them to submit a request to Washington, DC, for my records to be returned, and they continue to tell me that they are submitting the request but they are not getting any responses.
GENERAL CISNEROS: We will follow up with the VA reps that are here, that were sent here to be here to participate in this. We will ask them for a follow-up in your particular -- I'd like to make sure that your name and contact location is -- is addressed with the VA reps that are back here that identified themselves, so we can do a follow up on that.
SFC JOHNSON: Okay, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Any other questions here?
SFC JOHNSON: All right. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: I'm sorry. Hold on. (Applause).
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yes, if somebody from the VA could identify themselves and approach him. Did you see them back over here?
SFC JOHNSON: Yes, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. That completes our veterans and civilian -- DoD civilian employees. Before we go to the open forum, let me -- Well, let me ask: Are there any other veterans who desire to testify? Veterans or DoD civilians. Yes?
SGT. LOPEZ: Can I testify?
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yes, if you can come up here. Please identify yourself, and also inform us if you have any documentation or things that you can leave with us so that we'll get the full scope of your testimony. And also we'd like to keep your comments to 5 minutes.
SGT. LOPEZ: Sure.
Good evening. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak tonight. My name is Jonathan Roger Lopez, retired, Air Force. I've been medically retired for going on 2 years now. Consequently I served in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations after the ground war. I served from June '92 to August '92, and then a second time in '96 of June through September of '96. I was with Air Force security police unit, the 4402nd Provisional Wing. We were there in '92. We got assigned to a classified location in Kuwait. We -- We were working with the Air Force Special Operations Unit, and we had to secure an Air Force facility, an airport.
One of my things that I was concerned with, that there was a lot of residual bombing things that were still there that -- towers, tanks, everything. We were one of the first units back -- allowed back into that place. When I was there, I got sick right there at the -- the medical center there, and then as I returned -- I went a second time, back, after the Khobar Tower bombings. And then as I returned back from Saudi the second time, I -- I was diagnosed with CML, with leukemia. I've undergone a bone marrow transplant for that now, and I'm post -- almost 2 years out post transplant. I'm doing real well now. Consequently I've been placed on TDRL and possibly could be going back into -- into the military, back into the Air Force.
Just my main concern is that -- One of the things I was -- I was concerned about is that, even though some veterans weren't exactly there during the war, there's -- it could be a concern for -- for you, you know, gentlemen and you ladies tonight to see that, you know, you could bring that question up, that possibly other personnel, even after the fact, could have been exposed to DU or whatever was on the T-72 tanks or whatever -- whatever was there. That's pretty much that concludes what -- what I needed to say.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you. Are you -- Are you medically retired right now?
SGT. LOPEZ: I'm medically retired. I'm on the temporary duty retirement list.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Let me see if -- Sir, you want --
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: Did you get your marrow from a sibling or from the --
MR. LOPEZ: From my brother, a sibling. It was a CLA 66 match.
GENERAL CISNEROS: In case we need to follow up or -- Do you -- Do you have any documents --
SGT. LOPEZ: I did not bring them. I've been in school all day today. I attend school here, so --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Could you make sure that one of our staff will get your -- your --
SGT. LOPEZ: I have your fax number, so I'll be able to fax --
GENERAL CISNEROS: Fax number or whatever you can so --
SGT. LOPEZ: -- all my documentation.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And you're in San Antonio, Sgt. Lopez?
SGT. LOPEZ: Yes. Yes, sir.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Any other questions?
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Who did the bone marrow transplant?
SGT. LOPEZ: It was done here at Wilford Hall at the bone marrow transplant unit.
GENERAL CISNEROS: While you were there in '92 and '96, did you -- did you get any symptoms that -- that you're attributing to or --
SGT. LOPEZ: I was -- had black mucus. I was blowing black mucus out of my nose and trouble breathing. That was mainly one of the things. And then I had a little bout with a fever and, you know, possibly food poisoning or something, you know, real minor. But other than that, no.
GENERAL CISNEROS: But this was in '92.
SGT. LOPEZ: '92.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Were there any oil field -- any -- what -- Were you attributing some of that --
SGT. LOPEZ: Small --
GENERAL CISNEROS: -- to oil or --
SGT. LOPEZ: Small oil field burnings, not those -- not the big ones. They were already capped.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Yeah, there were some. Okay. Well, thank you, Sgt. Lopez. We appreciate your testimony.
SGT. LOPEZ: Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Are there any other veterans who wish to testify?
Okay. We have -- A presentation was asked by Ms. Patricia Axelrod to talk about chemical weapons fatalities. I'm not sure that's working, Ms. Axelrod.
MS. AXELROD: My disadvantage. Can we make it work (projector), because I have transparencies.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Can we get the -- Roger?
MR. KAPLAN: It's working pretty well. Hello (also testing the microphone).
MS. AXELROD: How do I turn this on?
GENERAL CISNEROS: And Ms. Axelrod, you have -- we've given you 10 minutes for your presentation.
(Overhead viewer utilized, in which transparencies are shown, which have been made available to the Board.)
DR. AXELROD: My name is Patricia Axelrod, and I'm here on behalf of the state of California Reserve Officers' Association Committee on Persian Gulf War illness, as well as the Desert Storm Think Tank, which was seeded by a grant I received from the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation just as the war began. This has allowed me an unparalleled luxury to study this war, and I have interviewed and debriefed hundreds of soldiers. I have approximately 16 years experience in weapons systems' analysis and the impacts and consequences of war. The last 8 years have been dedicated to the Persian Gulf War.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Are you currently with a university or who are you employed with?
MS. AXELROD: No, currently, sir, I conduct the Desert Storm Think Tank.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay.
MS. AXELROD: And I am affiliated, once again, with the state of California Reserve Officers' Association Committee on Persian Gulf War illness. I would tell you briefly that the ROA has in effect passed a national resolution asking Congress for money to treat these veterans and to continue caring for them, which is -- this was not done during the Vietnam war. I know you must know that, Admiral Zumwalt, so they've kind of broken ranks with their own to stand up for the vet.
I'd like to thank Captain Jerry Kromrey, who is not with us tonight, but he is -- he is a stalwart defender of the vets, and he is the -- the chairman of the ROA Committee on Persian Gulf War Illness. I am, as I said, a founding committee member. My address again, the Desert Storm Think Tank and Veterans' Advocate, 2601 N Street, # 3, Sacramento, California 95816. My telephone number and fax is (916) 441-4397.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you leave that up there to give us a chance to write all that down?
MS. AXELROD: Sure.
In the course of -- of the past 8 years, as I said, I have debriefed hundreds of soldiers. Many of them have -- trust me enough to use me as a conduit for pictures, photographs, and documents which they otherwise might not present to the Department of Defense or other people.
As an aside, I know you don't know me, but, again, this is an example of my past work. I did indeed prompt a General Accounting Office investigation into a friendly fire incident. This GAO was requested by Senator Jim Sasser. I have also addressed Goddard Space Flight Center with Mr. Steven Hildreth who is with the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. (Washington, DC)
I believe that there are many factors contributing to Persian Gulf war illness, and as you see right there, the vaccinations, depleted uranium, despite the fact that Mr. Rostker's committee has recently come out with a finding of no effect--I believe depleted uranium did indeed contribute--smoke and chemical pollutants, old world leishmaniasis, pesticides and insecticides, allied destruction of Iraqi chemical, nerve, and biological warfare weapons. And I do believe there was intentional Iraqi use as well (of chemical weapons). I also would add the effects of the intense Desert Storm electromagnetic environment.
Following the war, it took me 18 months or so, but I did get into Baghdad, whereupon I was promptly put under house arrest because I was asking very hard questions. After my release, they attempted to interview me, and I was not very cooperative, and perhaps you can tell that by the expression on my face there.
I'm going to talk tonight just solely about chemical weapons. This is what we think about in the US as we talk about chemical weapons: Blister, choking agents, as you know. We speak of mustard, nitrogen mustard, phosgene, lewisite, blood agents, and of course nerve agents, and incapacitating agents, to include BZ.
My investigation into the use of Iraqi chemical weaponry revealed a different combination of compounds and chemicals. What you're looking at here is message traffic. That was declassified following the Persian Gulf war. A great amount of message traffic was declassified and placed on the -- on the web. It has subsequently been taken down. But as you can see here, there's some discussion of dusty agents, and these are chemical agents impregnated on a carrier material, usually a fine dust, as you can see. And dusty agents are very difficult to contend with. They do impregnate the uniform, and they are very difficult to decontaminate and prevent toxics from harming the veterans.
Secondarily, the Iraqis use a combination of chemicals, what they call a cocktail, a sarin and mustard gas cocktail. Perhaps they also used blood agents, or phosgene, as they're known to have. Again, I remind you, what you're looking at here is message traffic to and fro the battlefield, which was declassified, placed on the net, and then removed. Again, you'll see right here we have a cocktail right here. Again, a cocktail. This is somewhat different from what is used in the western countries where -- or what is in the western arsenals, which are solely nerve or mustard gases. This is a cocktail. I believe they do this because it makes it more difficult to detect and it spoofs identification.
Again, a further combination of weapons. You can see there there's a certain type of chemical agent which they have censored the name of. And a B-1 chemical agent, which is a special mixture of chemicals for which there is no apparent protection. Now, DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) stated that there was were no chemical or biological weapons used during the Desert Storm because no -- no chemical munitions were found and there were no chemical casualties. I would contend otherwise. This came out of the Saudi Gazette, the date is 3-7-91, and you can quite clearly see that a gas -- you can see it says, "Gas mine exploded during ground war," and this is per Captain Scott Campbell, who was a public affairs officer for the 2nd Marine Division.
For those who have not seen a mine field, this is a mine field typical of the Kuwaiti beaches. And I have come to the conclusion that the use of chemical weapons by the Iraqis was limited. It was limited because thereby in -- in using it in a limited fashion they avoided detection and subsequent retaliation.
I would address your attention to the underline of yellow. Look at B, please, and you'll see very clearly that yellow rings mean blister agents. This is -- This came out of the officers' course of instruction for the Iraqi military. They also speak of a -- Further up. They speak of booby traps as well, and I'm going to show you both yellow ringed munitions as well as booby traps. These pictures come to me courtesy of a Philip Rios (Staff Sergeant) who had experience in both Vietnam and in Desert Storm. He is ill himself, I might add, and he has not gotten adequate care through the VA. Despite his best efforts to attempt to obtain care he has not received appropriate care. He did encounter chemical weapons in the battlefield. He photographed them, and he also -- he -- I'm about to present these pictures to you.
Another type of chemical mine in Kuwait City has been described by several sources. This is a mine in the historical sense and is perhaps better described as a chemical ambush. This chemical ambush consists of a small bunker-type structure, often in a horseshoe shape, which had been partially backfilled with earth and into which containers which appear to contain chemical agents had been placed.
This is courtesy of Phil Rios. This was found outside of Kuwait, and you'll see very clearly that there are yellow stripes on this munition. The surrounding discoloration that you see is typical of mustard gas, more than likely a persistent agent, and that would be consistent with an unexploded munition which is leaking.
Here we have the horseshoe-shaped mine or ambush, whichever it is you prefer to call it, and see very clearly that there is a horse shaped -- horseshoe-shaped configuration, and you'll see that there's liquid there. You note that there -- there is a barrel, a 25-gallon barrel there as well.
This is a memorandum which was circulated throughout the Surgeon General's office, this -- created by General Ronald Blanck, who has gone on to become the -- the Surgeon General of the U. S. Army. At the time that this was written he was an assistant to the Surgeon General. As you can see, in 1994 he wrote this memorandum, and what he did was summarize his trip with coalition members of Operation Desert Storm. You can see that he's -- he traveled throughout the theater and he met with people in the Czech republic to discuss specifically their detections.
His finding was as follows: "Clearly chemical warfare agents were detected and confirmed at very low levels. Therefore unless evidence of cross-reactivity, etcetera, is found, the presumption of their presence must be made. The two issues that arise from this are what was the origin of such agents and did the agents contribute to the illness described by a small number of United States veterans of the Persian Gulf. The answer to the first question has political and military significance but little medical relevance. Of far greater importance to military medicine and to the veterans is the answer to the second question." His signature.
I'm about to show you some photographs which I gave to Bernard Rostker myself personally on November 20, 1997. I requested that he sign for them, as you can quite clearly see. I have finally gotten an answer from Mr. Rotsker's team as it concerned the photographs I'm about to show you. I'd like you to bear in mind that the -- the veterans who testified tonight all spoke of insects, flies in great number, and that's true because I traveled there myself, and I know that while Saddam Hussein might like to think he's king over there, in fact it's the fly.
(Photographs of Iraqi Desert Storm Casualties on viewer.)
So if you would take a close look at this, please. We have right here -- We have three bodies and a truck. It would seem likely that this truck drove into a contaminated region. I'm going to show you close-ups. If you were to examine these pictures microscopically you would take note that there are no flies on this -- on these bodies. You will also note that this man is obviously caught in the throes of asphyxiation. Please take note of the strange legs akimbo.
Another man. Please take note of the fluid around his mouth and his nose. If you examine these pictures closely you'll see there's no indication of shrapnel injury. These pictures have been submitted to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, who have very clearly stated they cannot say what these men died of. I will tell you that unofficially I did meet with a pathologist from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology who told me that in his estimate he was looking at clear evidence of toxic death.
You will take note in the whiteness of this man's face, and also please take note those are his intestines which have broken through and there is no blood there. Again, to -- to study these pictures microscopically with a magnifying glass, however you choose to do so, you will see no evidence of shrapnel injury.
This is a cover of a book that will lend explanation to the next picture. You can see very clearly this is the Marine Battle Skills Training Handbook, Book 2, Individual Combat Basic Tasks, dated January 1993. For those who do not know what an M-8 strip looks like, this is what an M-8 strip -- strip looks like. I bring this up and I show you this because people from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology told me they did not know what an M-8 strip looked like. You will see that these are strips that are litmus strips. They are reagent strips, and they are engineered to change color by agent. Yellow gold indicates a presence of the G series nerve agent. Dark green indicates presence of a V series nerve agent. Pink red indicates the presence of an H series blister agent. And some G agents give a red brown color, which is between typical H and G color.
This brings me to this picture. Clearly this is a litmus strip, you'll take note of the blood streaming from the man's face. Once again, the position of the legs. The comb was put there by the person who photographed this.
I have spoken with many people from 24 Infantry Division, 24 ID, many of whom have told me that they encountered chemical casualties, Iraqi chemical casualties, euphemistically referred to as "contaminated remains." One of those people who is prepared to go on the record is this gentleman right here. His name is Al Alberius. He is a chief warrant officer. He lives in Arkansas. And he has spoken with Mr. Rostker's people in -- to confirm the fact that not only he but many other people from 24 ID encountered contaminated remains. Not only did they encounter contaminated remains, but certainly people from Graves Registration, or GREGG, routinely encountered bodies they considered to be contaminated remains.
This is a picture of a bunker taken by Al Alberius, and what you're looking at there so very foggy is gas release coming up from the bunker.
I will close with this GAO report dated September 1998. Quite clearly their finding was that the Department of Defense does not have a strategy to address low-level exposure, and quite frankly they would like to ignore it. And in doing so they would ignore the suffering of all of these veterans here. And I would like to present these photographs to your committee. I have not enlarged them.
I want you to know that Dr. Fredrick Sidell, who is perhaps the preeminent expert for the Army in chemical weaponry has reviewed these pictures. He stated he can neither confirm nor deny -- I paraphrase -- that these casualties were caused by chemicals; however, his primary concern was he -- he could not see the pictures, he claimed the pictures were not clear. Interestingly enough, he did not ask for better copies of the pictures. Also a Dr. Laughlin from Battelle reviewed the pictures at the request of Dr. Rostker. He too stated that he could not see the pictures clearly, but he did not request better copies of the pictures, I might add.
That's a sunset. Or you -- Perhaps we'll call it a sunrise, hoping you folks put some sunshine on this matter. I would urge you, please, to speak with Mr. Rostker's team. They have spoken with and they have confirmed this to me, they have spoken with people from 24 ID. They tell me that people from 24 ID routinely report sighting contaminated remains. I've spoken with people from Provisional Battalion. These are the people that cleaned up after the war. They will tell you that they did indeed encounter chemical weapons in that theater of war. I would urge you also, given the opportunity, to interview people from Graves Registration, or GREGG, and they too will tell you that they did indeed encounter what are euphemistically called "contaminated remains."
If I left this -- So you -- you are the oversight committee. If I left this in the hands of Dr. Rostker, these pictures would never come to light. They were lost, as a matter of fact, not only by Dr. Rostker but later by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The copies they have are in black and white somehow. They've kept copies and now they're in black and white.
The principal investigator in this matter is a Tom Whitsett, who tells me that this matter will remain open but the pictures will remain an unresolved issue, but that he will speak with more people from 24 ID. He'll try to get them in -- together in a room he says, and at that point he'll talk to them about the pictures and what they've seen. I would ask you not to wait for Bernard Rotsker's team to move on these pictures. There are more pictures like this. I have been told by Tom Whitsed, Mr. Rotsker's investigator, that these are the only pictures he or anyone else has ever seen that are purported to be pictures of contaminated remains. I simply don't believe that.
So I will close -- Briefly, I would say as an aside as it concerns the matter of depleted uranium, I would urge some researcher -- My expertise, as an aside, is literature review. In 1993 I wrote a study called A Research Guide to Desert Storm Syndrome, and I did so at the request of the National Institute of Health. Subsequently the report was buried, and I was asked to take the name of the NIH off of it. It was later published in International Perspectives in Public Health.
As an aside, I came across quite an interesting study and a very important one. This is as it concerns the matter of depleted uranium. In 1974 the Los Alamos scientific laboratory at the University of California conducted a study entitled "Particle Size Distribution of Fragments From Depleted Uranium Penetrators Fired Against Armored Plate Targets." The principal finding was that their results provide a reasonable estimate of a potential hazard to personnel exposed in test areas or in combat.
I would also urge, if you are able to request through whatever means, there is an excellent study entitled "The Epidemiological Follow up of the New Jersey Radium Cases, November 1957 through 1967" on depleted uranium. This was conducted by the New Jersey State Department of Health out of Trenton, New Jersey. It was published by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Its findings were that people who worked with depleted uranium -- You know that beautiful glass, that beautiful red glass of the art/deco times and that beautiful red rich glass, the orange glass has very vibrant colors, they were made vibrant by the use of depleted uranium. Many of those workers became ill and many of them died. So perhaps some of the most comprehensive studies that have ever been done on depleted uranium were the studies that I've mentioned. So I would urge some researcher other than me to get their hands on those studies. Thank you. Do you have questions?
GENERAL CISNEROS: Thank you, Mrs. Axelrod -- Ms. Axelrod. I'm sure we may have some questions from the -- from the panel here, but let me ask you: In your discussion with the person who gave you the picture of the dead soldiers, those were obviously Iraqi soldiers?
MS. AXELROD: Those are obviously Iraqi soldiers.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And they were killed, in your estimate or -- or (inaudible) by chemical weapons? I mean --
MS. AXELROD: The people that came across the --
GENERAL CISNEROS: -- the Iraqis fired on their own troops with chemical weapons, or --
MS. AXELROD: Sir, I can't -- I can't explain that. It would seem evident, if you can reconstruct that scenario by virtue of the truck, that these people were more than -- had more than likely driven into a contaminated area. They had more than likely begun to run for their lives when they were felled.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. Members?
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: No thank you.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: I have a couple of questions. The -- You're going to provide us with the photographs you said?
MS. AXELROD: I am.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Will they be good quality photographs?
MS. AXELROD: Actually -- Yes. Yes, they will be good --
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: So we don't have to request them.
MS. AXELROD: I'm not going to magnify them, sir, I'm going to give them to you in 5 X 7 format --
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Okay.
MS. AXELROD: -- and allow you to magnify them as you see fit.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Great.
MS. AXELROD: I would ask that you study them microscopically.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: And will you provide us with copies of the -- the DEET graphs you used so we can look at those documents?
MS. AXELROD: I could. I didn't bring them with me, sir. I can --
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: You can mail them to us. That would be fine.
MS. AXELROD: Sorry to say. But I've heard of DEET.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: And one other question: You cited the -- the Czech detections of chemical weapons. The French also detected chemical weapons; have you looked into those detections or talked to anybody from France?
MS. AXELROD: Yes, I have.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: And -- And what?
MS. AXELROD: Well, other than the fact that they believe very firmly that there -- that there were in fact chemicals there, that they indeed detected them, and they're somewhat offended that their findings have been ignored.
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: Okay. Thank you.
DR. CAM: You mentioned that you had other pictures besides this. Could you give us that as well?
MS. AXELROD: I could indeed.
DR. CAM: And is it possible to get more information on when and how the pictures were taken?
MS. AXELROD: I can tell you that I have promised the person who gave me these pictures confidentiality. However Al Alberius, whom I mentioned to you, tells me very clearly that 24 ID photographed these bodies or similar bodies extensively. And I will tell you as an aside, members of 24 ID, and you know perhaps the role that they played, they were the shock troops, they were out ahead of them all under the leadership of General Barry McCaffrey, they will tell you that following an encounter, following a battle, that they became hungry, so they would open up their MREs to eat right there on the battlefield, which is a normal thing to do. They found that their MREs were covered with flies as soon as they opened them up, and they played rather a strange game, and I know you know that there are strange games played on battlefields. What they did was they would move closer and closer and closer to bodies they thought were contaminated remains. They didn't have -- The bodies had no flies on them. And as they moved closer and closer the flies flew away, and thus they were able to eat their MREs. So they would play a game to see how close they could get to the body before the flies fell away so that they could eat.
DR. CAM: Also you mentioned the interview of other members of the 24th Infantry Division. Did you compile this into some kind of record or book where we can read --
MS. AXELROD: Yes, I on-goingly compiled this.
DR. CAM: Can we have a copy of that eventually?
MS. AXELROD: Well, that's going to take -- Yes. Yes. That will take time. However, what I would encourage you to do: Tom Whitsett, who is Mr. Rostker's investigator in this matter, he was also, as I understand, or as he has told me, he was also the lead investigator for the Khamisiyah incident. Tom Whitsett has told me that he has interviewed many members of 24 ID and that they have mentioned contaminated remains on the battlefield. So may I encourage you to access those records from Mr. Whitsett - if you can get them in an uncensored format, I might add. I would also request that you get the records from members of the Provisional Battalion, as well as Graves Registration, who will tell you that they came across bodies which they considered to be contaminated remains.
DR. CAM: Thank you.
MS. AXELROD: Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Did they indicate anything to you that there was a practice of vector control, that whenever they come across a dead animal or a body couldn't bury, they would put some insecticide or pesticide on it to keep -- you know, like you do with dead animals, they also did it with humans? Did they indicate -- indicate anything like that to you?
MS. AXELROD: No. But, sir, I remind you again, and perhaps I can, if I might, bring you back to this picture here. You can see very clearly that the people that came across this body thought they were looking at a contaminated remain. That is an M-8 strip. And if you examine that rather microscopically, as was pointed out to me the other day by an NBC expert, he thought that he could see some very minute changes occurring around the edges to perhaps a red or an orange.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay.
MS. AXELROD: Admiral Zumwalt, I just want to extend my compliments to you, sir, for your good work, and I'm so pleased to see you here today, sir, and I wish you the best.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: Thank you.
MS. AXELROD: Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Ladies and gentlemen, that brings us to the end of this hearing, and prior to closing let me allow the Board to make final remarks. And I'd like to start off with Admiral Zumwalt.
ADMIRAL ZUMWALT: I think it's been a very useful hearing. I can assure the people who have made presentations that the data you presented will certainly be looked at carefully by the staff and by the Board after the staff has gone through it.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Rear Admiral Steinman?
ADMIRAL STEINMAN: I'd like to echo Admiral Zumwalt's remarks, and -- and also remind the -- our audience that we have -- we'll have a verbatim transcript of all the comments here this evening so we can review them in -- in more detail, as well as looking at the documents you're going to provide us and the photographs. Thank you.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Dr. Cam?
DR. CAM: I would like to thank everyone who has made a presentation. It was very informative, and we will follow up with all issues.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And finally for me, I'd like to add my appreciation to the University of Texas, San Antonio for the use of this facility, to the members of the -- of the staff that set this up and all the work that went in. And -- And I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I'm very cognizant of the fact that many of you came from long distances to come here to testify. Those of you who did testify, my compliments for very concise information that you've given us. We understand the concern. We're committed here to find answers and do it as fast we can, to find out the issues concerning you.
(Last 5 minutes were not recorded on audio tape. The following is per Reporter's stenographic notes.)
GENERAL CISNEROS: I appreciate the time. Here we are on a Thursday, late at night, you've come from all over here -- you've been on this session, you've shared this time because of concerns. We're grateful to you in your presentations here. We are going to have some more open meetings dated -- again, another in Washington on July the 13th, in Seattle in October, and one again in March 2,000 in preparation for our final report that will go in.
MR. KOERN: Dr. -- One answer for the low turn out is Dr. Rostker is having his yellow ribbon meeting in Houston today -- I mean Fort Hood. I just found that out. And I don't want to go into it with him.
The other point is I've had knowledge of friends of mine telling me from the Gulf that there was BT, (bag em and tag em), bag and tag units, that followed the troops behind the infantry units. They were also bagging and tagging the Iraqi soldiers at the same time, and low and behold, 85 percent of that platoon is dead right now. It's a reserve unit, when they got back they deactivated. I think four or five people are still alive.
GENERAL CISNEROS: 85 percent of them are dead?
MR. KOERN: That's right.
GENERAL CISNEROS: I'd like to follow-up and check on that. Do you we have an idea of what unit that was, what --
MR. KOERN: It was a reserve out of Louisiana. I can find out for you.
SGT. HOOD: -- other black sergeant in Yellow Ribbon. When we do we sit on the net and cross-reference with other vets, and he literally was going to take Rostker on. He's not here tonight. While I was on the phone with him a couple of nights ago our communication was literally blanked, our telephone signal was literally disintegrated, not once but twice. He got agitated with us because we wouldn't come to his rescue. We don't know how we're supposed to interact it, because somebody said he was from an intelligence unit, gathering information on each veteran that testifies or presenting information to a board and put on a hit list. We're not laughing, that's serious business.
While I was coming back from Wilford Hall, I literally was asked by April McVey, who was one of the persons on the teams on a federally funded research project with Dr. Amayo and Dr. Chat, she asked me why I was tying my shoes, was I planning on blowing up Wilford Hall. To that point what did I get myself into. I was trying to get tested for ALS. On the way home I was ran off the road. I was one of the few that came back in November of '95 for a medical board meeting. I had a nighttime board meeting. I got there at 2:18 and left there at 9:38 at night. So we take this issue very straight to the point, because Patricia Axelrod, when we tried to put all this stuff together, each vet came out of the closet, and just a couple of days ago one told me over the internet the Graves Unit did not exist, bag and tag unit, nobody wants to know about it. I guess from the way she was talking most people from the unit is dead.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Let me tell you, Senator Rudman is a real strong advocate. He's our chairman. I want to pass on the comments about what you've indicated here and this testimony that there are some intelligence units involved in suppressing information. I can tell you none of us would stand for it. This is the first time I've heard of that. We will not stand for that and we will pass that on.
SGT. HOOD: Only reason I'm bringing this up, because one day I was in the chat room talking about Gulf War veterans. I was asking to chat in AOL, and all of a sudden the letters N-S-A popped up on the screen, and another Vietnam vet asked him, "What are you doing in here?" "I'm retired." And we typed back, "There's no retired NSA guys, not hanging around in AOL in the middle of the afternoon." And CIA popped up in there in nighttime chats from AOL.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. That -- That brings the meeting to a close. We've got to get some people on it. I think we had adequate opportunities, and there are some more meetings coming open, and we'll --
MS. AXELROD: -- for one moment, sir. I know personally that veterans are terrified to come forward. I know there are more pictures to be found. I do know and I've been told on many occasions how very afraid veterans are to come forward. So, please, take what this gentleman is saying with more than a grain of salt.
GENERAL CISNEROS: I understand. My son went to Desert Storm, and I'll you assure that if he had told me anybody threatened him or anything I wouldn't tolerate it. And I've also talked to a lot of veterans, but I've never heard of any government efforts to suppress information. I'm concerned about it, and we'll pass this on to Senator Rudman.
MS. AXELROD: I would suggest as you speak with veterans, ask them. It takes a lot of guts for them to come forward and out of the closet when they're already sick and they've got a lot to lose or nothing to lose, but it takes a lot of guts. So I would sincerely ask that you speak with those veterans and ask them if they're not terrified. I would ask that this committee give these vets the benefit of the doubt. You do know that there are NBC records logs missing. I'm sure you've heard there's a great slice of NBC logs that have disappeared, and those logs will never be found. In the absence of those logs, and in consideration of the testimony you will hear respectfully from veterans, I would beg you to give these veterans the benefit of the doubt.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. And I would ask that -- I do ask that if somebody has been threatened by a government agent, then I would ask you that you give us the name, because I can assure you this board will look into it and not let it escape, but we need to know the specifics of it rather than we know somebody who is threatening and we try to pursue it and we're not able to pinpoint that down. So I would urge that. We're going to have --
MR. KOERN: I was given direct orders not to use government telephones, fax machines or computers, anything to do with the Persian Gulf war or my Persian Gulf illness. The direct orders by my supervisor to not use any facilities -- The government made me sick, and I can't use the phone to call the doctor or anything like this.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Can you give us the name of -- Is he a government representative? Is he a government employee?
MR. KOERN: He's a government employee, he's my boss. Larry Simone.
GENERAL CISNEROS: He's your current boss right now? And you work where now?
MR. KOERN: I work at the Corpus Christi Army Depot, and I'm being drummed out right now for my inability to do my job.
GENERAL CISNEROS: And he told you not to use the phone?
MR. KOERN: Absolutely.
MR. LAINE: I can verify that. Larry Simone is. We worked together back in the Apache days in 1985. We worked hand in hand with Apache Training Brigade. And that's true also of the gentleman here, Mike. He's talked about a gentleman by the name of Kurt Love. I'm aware of that conversation. I've been -- not at that particular conversation, but I have heard the same thing from Kurt. And Kurt is the one that supposedly is being harassed by the black team.
SGT. HOOD: Kurt Love is running the "war wagon" out of Copperas Cove, Texas. Rostker has dared him to show up at a town hall meeting. Literally our phone calls were blanked out. And I got -- I was at the point where I had to alter my plans because we discussed everything over the phone, so I had to come to this meeting by a different route.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Okay. And the name of the supervisor that told you what, again, sir?
MR. KOERN: Larry Simone and Epperson. Epperson is the next director up. It came from him for me to stop. I was forbidden to use the telephone, the fax machine or the computer to communicate anything to do with the Persian Gulf War specifically or my Persian Gulf war illness. I was trying to get authorization to come to Dallas to get some treatment, and then that was reported to the IG, and the IG still is sitting on that, but these people at the depots, they're trying to drum me out on a medical, that I can't perform this job anymore, which I half-heartedly can't.
MR. LAINE: I can verify that. I was the one that set up the appointment for them.
GENERAL CISNEROS: Our time is over. Thank you for being here with us today.
MS. McGUIRE: The meeting is adjourned. (Meeting adjourned at 9:45)