Friday, May 18, 2007

Ian Urbina NY Times article on Sarin gas

Gas May Have Harmed Troops, Scientists Say
Sign In to E-Mail or Save This
Single Page

Published: May 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, May 16 — Scientists working with the Defense Department have found evidence that a low-level exposure to sarin nerve gas — the kind experienced by more than 100,000 American troops in the Persian Gulf war of 1991 — could have caused lasting brain deficits in former service members.

Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image

Rick Friedman for The New York Times
Roberta F. White of Boston University led the study of sarin nerve gas, which used new scanning technology.

Possible Sarin Exposure in Iraq, 1991 Though the results are preliminary, the study is notable for being financed by the federal government and for being the first to make use of a detailed analysis of sarin exposure performed by the Pentagon, based on wind patterns and plume size.

The report, to be published in the June issue of the journal NeuroToxicology, found apparent changes in the brain’s connective tissue — its so-called white matter — in soldiers exposed to the gas. The extent of the brain changes — less white matter and slightly larger brain cavities — corresponded to the extent of exposure, the study found.

Previous studies had suggested that exposure affected the brain in some neural regions, but the evidence was not convincing to many scientists. The new report is likely to revive the long-debated question of why so many troops returned from that war with unexplained physical problems. Many in the scientific community have questioned whether the so-called gulf war illnesses have a physiological basis, and far more research will have to be done before it is known whether those illnesses can be traced to exposure to sarin. The long-term effects of sarin on the brain are still not well understood.

But several lawmakers who were briefed on the study say the Department of Veterans Affairs is now obligated to provide increased neurological care to veterans who may have been exposed.

In March 1991, a few days after the end of the gulf war, American soldiers exploded two large caches of ammunition and missiles in Khamisiyah, Iraq. Some of the missiles contained the dangerous nerve gases sarin and cyclosarin. Based on wind patterns and the size of the plume, the Department of Defense has estimated that more than 100,000 American troops may have been exposed to at least small amounts of the gases.

When the roughly 700,000 deployed troops returned home, about one in seven began experiencing a mysterious set of ailments, often called gulf war illnesses, with problems including persistent fatigue, chronic headaches, joint pain and nausea. Those symptoms persist today for more than 150,000 of them, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than the number of troops exposed to the gases.

Advocates for veterans have argued for more than a decade and a half that a link exists between many of these symptoms and the exposure that occurred in Khamisiyah, but evidence has been limited.

The study, financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first to use Pentagon data on potential exposure levels faced by the troops and magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of military personnel in the exposure zone. It found signs of brain changes that could be due to exposure, showing that troops who had been exposed at higher levels had about 5 percent less white matter than those who had little exposure.

White matter volume varies by individual, but studies have shown that significant shrinkage in adulthood can be a sign of damage.

The study was led by Roberta F. White, chairman of the department of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. White and other researchers studied 26 gulf war veterans, half of whom were exposed to the gases, according to a Defense Department modeling of the likely chemical makeup and location of the plume. The researchers found that troops with greater potential exposure had less white matter.

In a companion study, the researchers also tested 140 troops believed to have experienced differing degrees of exposure to the chemical agents to check their fine motor coordination and found a direct relation between performance level and the level of potential exposure. Individuals who were potentially more exposed to the gases had a deterioration in fine motor skills, performing such tests at a level similar to people 20 years older.

Dr. White says this study and the results of research from other studies provide “converging evidence that some gulf war veterans experienced nervous system damage as a result of service, and this is an important development in explaining gulf war illnesses.”

Phil Budahn, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the research required further examination.

“It’s important to note that its authors describe the study as inconclusive,” Mr. Budahn said, adding, “It was based upon a small number of participants, who were not randomly chosen.”

Dr. White said she did not describe her study as inconclusive, though she said it would be accurate to call it preliminary.

I have sent the following to Senator Patty Murray's office and the other Edgewood Arsenal Volunteers who have been researching chemical weapons exposures since our use was learned in the late 1990's and early 2000's

To bring everyone up to date on my actions for the past month or so, I have been in contact with Senator Patty Murray's office about the Edgewood veterans and the lack of help from the VA and DOD on the status of claims processing for the many claims we have filed in the past five years.

Many of us have claims either in the system, on appeal or have been partially granted, most of them are granted for reasons other than the experiments or any secondary conditions that may be linked to any of the exposures.

For those of you that are not aware of the 77 toxic substances found in the drinking water, streams and ponds and the soil of the training areas of Edgewood, that were found by the EPA when they did the first assessments for the Superfund projects in 1978, the amount of environmental contamination led the EPA to force the DOD to cap the bases water wells where all the drinking, bathing and personal use water was drawn. The government was then forced to use bottle water and pipe in water from the White Mountains in 1978. The base is one of the most contaminated pieces of real estate the United States owns. Here is the link to the EPA report on EA this is the list of the 77 known toxins we were exposed to environmentally I have ran them thru the CDC database in Atlanta and they are linked to every known medical problem a persons body can suffer from, if you can name it these chemicals are linked to it from Cancer to hemorrhoids, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, neurological, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular, blood disorders.

There is also this manual published by the VA in October 2003 that deals with all the CBR programs from WW2 thru present which includes both Edgewood Arsenal programs WW2 and the Cold War

I obtained a full copy of the 1975 DA IG Report on Human experimentation which led to the closure of the "medvol" program in 1975. I wrote the Office of the Inspector General on the Internet and within 10 days they mailed me a complete copy of the report. 1994 GAO Report on Human Experiments a German doctors report on the health of Wermacht soldiers exposed to chemical weapons in WW2 Germany Jan 1994 report on health effects of exposure to Organphosphate weapons GA, GB and VX 1993 GAO Report on Secret tests GAO Report on DOD's statements on Gulf War Illness can not be supported link between PTSD and heart disease accepted by the BVA on appeals for secondary conditions for soldiers with PTSD other supporting research on heart disease and PTSD page 20 of this GAO report shows that DOD had no intention of finding the 7120 men of Edgewood until the Bush Administration left office in 2009, despite the fact they knew where we were based on the data gathered in FY2000 for the March 2003 IOM Sarin Report

I have asked Senator Murray and Congressman John Hall Chairman of the VA Subcommittee on Investigations to look into the way DOD and the VA has treated the Edgewood veterans.

Mike Bailey

"On May 2, after learning about the research, Senators Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, wrote the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments, asking about their plans for outreach and expanded benefits for exposed troops."

I think Senator Murray would be interested in this information as it shows that DOD and the VA have been knowingly lying to her and the Senate since at least March 2003 release of the IOM's Sarin report. But it is more likely before that as they have known of the existence of these chemical weapons studies for years.

This article in today's NY Times shows the tip of what I have been claiming for the past three years the link between known chemical weapons medical problems and the exposures at Kamisayah Iraq in 1991 and the 7120 men of Edgewood Arsenal.

They don't need more government studies there are more than 30 years of them in existence now, from the 1975 SIPRI report based on Wermacht soldiers of WW2

Then there is the January 1994 National Institute of Health report on Sarin and other nerve agents here

The March 2003 IOM report based on the Edgewood veterans by DR William Page ignored these reports as they showed links to cardiovascular problems, neurological, gastrointestinal, an d pulmonary, all of the bodies main systems, the costs for medical care and or compensation to the veterans of the First Gulf War would run into the trillions over the next 6 decades or longer.

I also have the links to GAO reports, DOD reports and VA statements that are just flat lies, not misstatements. But known deliberate misinformation. Mike Bailey 803-739-5749 the Edgewood volunteers are the key to the Gulf War veterans and it is my belief that is why DOD and the VA are deliberately ignoring us here are all the names of the volunteers I am in contact with as of today

Friday, May 11, 2007

Veterans Lament Hurdles at VA Medical Centers and Regional Offices


"It's like running into a brick wall, again

and again and again."

Story here...

Story below:


Veterans lament health hurdles

Gathering in Forest Grove highlights obstacles facing soldiers returning from combat

By Walt Wentz
The Forest Grove News-Times,

“It’s like running into a brick wall, again and again and again.”

Kurt Carlsen’s opinion of the Veteran’s Administration echoed that of other speakers at “Supporting the Troops,” a recent panel discussion about the problems facing veterans returning from overseas conflicts.

About 30 people listened and joined in the discussion between veterans, veterans’ spouses and Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs employees, held last Sunday, April 29, in Forest Grove.

Mike Van Dyke, a veteran of the first Gulf War, recalled that his claims for a service injury were at first “rejected every single time I went in– I had to fight.” His paperwork was “lost” for two years in the bureaucracy. “A lot of people just give up, that’s the sad part,” he said.

Jeff Rogers, an Air Force veteran and mental health specialist for Oregon veterans, said it took two years and multiple appeals to get a hearing aid to help him cope with an ear injury he sustained while in service.

Bill Croft, a 21-year veteran of the Coast Guard, recalled the Veteran’s Administration clerk who told him, “Coast Guard? You aren’t a veteran,” and had him escorted out of the building by security guards.

Croft now works as a service officer for the Washington County Veterans Services office and helps ex-servicemen cope with just that sort of official ignorance.

What’s wrong with the Veterans Administration? The problems are many, the speakers agreed. Prior to 9/11, the agency was closing offices and dropping employees because the number of veterans was declining nationwide. Today, with the war in Iraq ramping up and more injured veterans coming home, the agency still hasn’t rebuilt, speakers said.

The VA does not hire many veterans, they said, preferring to hire young people who are less likely to feel camaraderie with applicants.

Many complaints voiced at the forum were about the backlog of claims.

At present, 850,000 claims are facing a delay of up to 180 days. In an effort to reduce the lag to 150 days, speakers said, VA employees find it easier and faster to reject claims than to give them careful consideration.

Croft said he’s seen a lack of consistency in the VA’s decisions. He said he’s seen some veterans’ claims rejected, while the claim of another veteran with similar injuries is accepted.

The Veterans Administration can be reformed, the speakers agreed, but it will take widespread public outrage to start the process.

And, the speakers said, there are other obstacles for returning veterans.

Enlisting out of high school, many vets have no marketable skills.

Carlsen helps young, disabled vets find work through his job at Worksource Oregon, the state employment department. He said some employers take advantage of government incentive funds for providing a year’s employment, then drop their new employees after the money dries up.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), not recognized until recently, imposes a huge burden on veterans and their families. Even today, recalled one audience member, an 83-year-old grandfather, a Navy veteran, suffers terrifying “flashbacks” to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The speakers said that many young, troubled vets come home these days and struggle to reconnect with spouses and young children.

Mina Schoenheit, a mental health counselor on the faculty at Oregon Health and Science University, said the entire community can help hold these young families together with a simple gift of time.

“Young veterans I’ve talked to say they need one-on-one time with their spouses to rekindle the relationship,” she said.

Schoenheit proposed that ordinary people band together as “surrogate grandparents” or “surrogate families” to give an hour or two a week to struggling couples, by providing baby-sitting or chores so that spouses can have some crucial time together.

“This is the missing piece,” she says. “Let’s start locally, and then go globally.”

The April 29 forum was sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Pacific University and the West County Council for Human Dignity.


Larry Scott --

Time for VA Colonel to Resign, for the veterans

I would use the word, inflate or exaggerate, except that James Nicholson has a pattern of making blatantly false statements to veterans, reporters, Congressional Representatives and to this nation's Senators. It appears from his numerous statements publicly and on the record that there is nothing he will not distort for the purpose of advancing the Presidents agenda, regardless of how it affects this nations disabled veterans and their families.

Quite frankly the veterans and disabled veterans and their families deserve better from Presidential Appointees, and Senate confirmed Cabinet Officer's. What makes matters worse is that the Veterans Administration is a law unto itself, the Secretary of the VA, can make medical problems service connected by a signature on a piece of paper, as Secretary Principi did for brain tumors for veterans of the first Gulf War, based on the facts of an IOM study published in March 2003. The VA has powers that no other agency has, and has no control except by Congress and the President, they can and do ignore court orders.

What inspired me to write today's column is the report in McClatchy's newspaper, by an investigative reporter Chris Adams, he has spent the past few years doing a lot of work involving the Veterans Affairs, compiling data bases of benefits, compensation, how many veterans per state are disabled and drawing what percentage of compensation. It is his and others from McClatchy's organization that has led to the Illinois review called for by Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, last year.

This new article deals with the smoke and mirrors of what a "great agency" the VA Colonel has been portraying it for the past few years, since taking the helm from Secretary Anthony Principi. Chris Adams lays the case out here


To prove the quality of the VA's medical care, Nicholson and others - often using identical words to Congress or the news media - repeatedly have cited a study by the nonprofit RAND Corp.

In the last two years:

Nicholson said RAND ranked the overall quality of VA medical care as significantly higher than any other healthcare system in this country.

Dr. Jonathan Perlin, then the top VA health official, said in a radio interview that RAND "compared VA care to 12 other healthcare organizations, some of the best in the country," and found VA superior. Studies such as RAND's showed the agency's care to be "the best that you can get in the country," he said.

Kussman wrote in a statement to McClatchy earlier this year that RAND "recently" reported that veterans "receive better health care than any other patients in America."

The VA's public affairs department wrote in a magazine that the study "was conducted by the RAND Corporation, an independent think tank," as well as researchers from two universities.

As it turns out, the RAND study was neither fully independent nor all that recent. A VA grant helped pay for it. Two of its main authors had received VA career-development awards, and four of its nine listed authors were affiliated with the agency, according to the study's documentation.

It was published in 2004 but used data from 1997 to 1999, when the system treated far fewer patients than it does now.

The study does show that VA patients are more likely than non-VA patients to receive a range of needed tests and procedures. In the eyes of health experts, that's a real achievement; other studies have found similar results.

But Nicholson's claim that the agency performed better than "any other healthcare system in this country" and Perlin's assertion that RAND compared the VA with 12 other healthcare systems are wrong.

The study didn't compare the agency with other systems; it compared patients in the VA with those who weren't.

The non-VA patients were drawn from 12 large metropolitan areas across the country, while VA patients were drawn from two of its 21 regions. The two groups were surveyed with very different methods, and the non-VA sample had a far lower response rate than the VA sample.

Asked about the study, the VA said the agency had partially funded it but that the preponderance of money came from other sources; RAND has a long "reputation for independent evaluation," it said.

The VA did say that Perlin's quote was "partially inaccurate in describing the study," which it chalked up to confusion. It stood by the other statements.

In this article from Playboy of all places is an extensive article on James Nicholson and the VA it is an eye opener and I am sorry I haven't seen it before tonight.

Soon after Nicholson moved
into his new offices, the
VA, like the DOD, began to
aggressively roll back its
support for PTSD. ”

The story written by Mark Boal is long, 10 pages, but it is worth the read.

The government's attitude seems to be having the desired effect of keeping PTSD patients out of the DOD health care system and transferring the caseload burden to Veterans Affairs when the soldiers return home. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, 631,000 people have been discharged from the military, including National Guard and Reserve soldiers who are now deactivated. Of those, 73,000 have sought mental health treatment at the VA.

Critics say the VA, like the DOD, is falling short. A rumor going around the veterans community claims that, even in cases of existing injuries, military doctors are under diagnosing PTSD at military hospitals, preferring instead to use labels that do not entitle the soldier to combat-related compensation. "We've been hearing it all the time from our guys in the field who are working with these Iraq vets," says Joe Violante of Disabled American Veterans. Military doctors "are being told not to diagnose PTSD."

In 2004 leadership changed at the VA. The head of the agency, Anthony Principi, a longtime favorite of veterans groups, resigned. The timing of his resignation was suspect, as it came shortly after he told Congress the agency lacked funds to take care of veterans, and the move was widely interpreted as a firing. Bush replaced Principi with a high-level party operative named James Nicholson. A Republican power broker and a party heavyweight, he chaired the Republican National Committee during the 2000 presidential campaign, when he called Dick Cheney "one of the most qualified, beloved people in America."

Soon after Nicholson moved into his new offices, the VA, like the DOD, began to aggressively roll back its support for PTSD. First, in a move that echoed Burkett's charges, Nicholson ordered an investigation into the files of 72,000 veterans who had received PTSD compensation. Senate Democrats managed to undercut the review. In response, Nicholson commissioned a study at the Institute of Medicine to craft a new definition of PTSD, one more restrictive than that used by the American Psychiatric Association. That too fizzled. Finally, a second study was commissioned to "assess how PTSD compensation might influence beneficiaries' attitudes and behaviors in ways that might serve as barriers to recovery."

This new study from the IOM was released this week after two years of work, it was a critical report, although not the one the Veterans Affairs expected, it did show there are major problems with the diagnosis and compensation ratings across the nation, but not because of anything the veterans are doing, rather it is the fault of the VA Regional Offices and the lack of training for the adjudicators on how to assess and rate the cases for compensation. If this report is accepted as it should be, the implications are that compensation for PTSD will be greatly expanded.

Here is the story from the
VA about the findings and attached newspaper articles.

The long-awaited IOM study on PTSD compensation is out...and, it's not good news for the VA...but, it could be good news for veterans.

If all the recommendations in this report are implemented, and they probably will NOT be, it would cost the VA billions and give veterans better and more consistent PTSD diagnoses and higher compensation because ratings would be based on how PTSD affects all aspects of a veteran's life, not just the ability to be employed.

At the time I put this together, the report was not posted. If you can't find it at the IOM web site (see press release below) and want a copy, just email me and I'll forward it to you.

We have three stories...first from The Washington Post...second the IOM press release and third an AP story.

can be found here you can read it online for free or you can order it for 33.00 dollars, me I will read it online. I already have most of it.

To sum this up, Congressman Phil Haire has called for Secretary Nicholson to resign, he is a square peg in a round hole and does not have a clue on how to manage the largest healthcare system in the nation, nor manage the claims processing system that this nations disabled veterans depend on. There are an estimated 850,000 compensation claims on appeal in the VA system, either at local Regional Offices, the Board of Veterans Appeals or the Court of Veteran Appeals, many of this nations veterans will die before their claims process is completed, why? In this day of computers why are the claims files still handled the same way they were in 1945, all paper, folders that are measured in feet, not pages.

This is not political, this is just a statement of fact, the time is up for the VA Colonel, James Nicholson, you have proved you are nothing but a party shrill, and quite frankly Sir, this nation deserves better, as a veteran yourself, and an Officer, a Colonel, think of the men under you, the 26 million veterans and their families that deserve good leadership, and you have failed in that, you owe them and the President your resignation.

I ask the Kos Community to take the time today to either write your elected officials, Senators and Congress critters and let them know that we as Americans are fed up with a Cabinet Officer that lies to this nations veterans, their widows and all of the people they are accountable to, it is time for a change at the Veterans Administration and the VA Colonels time is up!!!!!!