For many veterans of the Gulf War one of their continuing troubles is the sickness commonly called Gulf War syndrome. The symptoms most often aligned with this malady include heavy fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and Fibromyalgia. Also, birth defects have been regularly reported among the children of Vets from that conflict. Children of veterans from the war fought in 1991 conflict showed a higher rate of certain kinds of defective heart valves. Children born to veterans of the Gulf War tended to develop a kind of kidney problem that did not manifest in the same Gulf War Vet’s other offspring born before fighting broke out. Some scientists continue to argue that they lack the data needed to link these defects to poisonous, but then, required items. However, a few factors seem at odds with that idea.
Soldiers were often exposed to DU, or depleted uranium. This type of uranium is the byproduct of enriched uranium, which we use in nuclear reactors and weapons. Now, depleted uranium, or DU, has different isotope ratios than natural uranium due to the processing it goes through. It’s weaker. In fact, the DU used in US munitions is 60% less radioactive. Traces of it have been found in some US tank armor. But is it still lethal?
Researchers have studied cultured cells along with laboratory rodents and concluded that there is a possibility of genetic, leukemogenic, neurological and reproductive problems from constant exposure. In fact, this epidemiology review concluded, and I quote: “In aggregate, the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU.” (https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/…/10.1186/1476-069X-4-17)
Exposure to chemical weapons like the extremely powerful nerve agent, sarin gas clearly didn’t help. Although currently outlawed, anyone exposed to it could suffer neurological damage if not immediately treated.
Anthrax vaccines used to be required of our service men, but by 2004 was banned because its’ danger was finally recognized.
Perhaps because so many had problems connecting their illness with their tours in the Gulf, (symptoms were often written off as ‘imagination’) not many spoke out about the problem. However, a true military hero stepped forward in one Major Michael Donnelly, (February 3, 1959 – June 30, 2005.) Donnelly was a member of the United States Air Force. He had to medically retire from the service in 1996 due to a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a disease he felt came about from his exposure to toxic conditions during the war. Donnelly spent six years trying to convince congress of the connection between his illness and serving in the Gulf. He testified before the US Congress about the problem. However, Donnelly lost his battle with cancer in 2005. The state of Connecticut honored Major Connelly by naming a state preserve after him in his hometown of South Windsor. Connelly also authored the book, Falcon’s Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir, with his sister, Denise Donnelly. (1998, Praeger, ISBN 0275964620)
If you are a Gulf War Vet and in need of information as to treatment or simply wish to make friends with people going through the same things as you, these two Facebook pages may be helpful: