The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA), an independent Gulf War Veterans' support organization, has long searched for answers to explain why nearly half of the 697,000 Gulf War I Veterans are now ill and why over 200,000 of those servicemen/women have requested disability, but have received no adequate diagnosis or treatment, from either the Department of Defense (DOD), or Veteran's Affairs. Though there have been over 125 studies done by the government at the cost of over $300,000,000 to the taxpayer, we still have no answers as to what caused so many of our soldiers to become ill. Meanwhile, the suffering veterans are receiving little, if any, medical treatment for this illness. It seems that whenever veterans become ill, the term "mystery illness" seems to be the first and often the only diagnosis that is ever made. Veterans are then left to fend for themselves, sick and unable to work, with little hope of a normal life again.
The AGWVA is now again asking questions, this time, about the newest "mystery illness" to hit the military. After being pressured by a few independent news reporters who have not permitted this "mystery" to continue unabated, The DOD recently has been forced to announce the "mystery" deaths of Gulf War II soldiers and that at least 100 other men and women have become ill. Again, however, there were no adequate answers, but, only that the "mystery illness" diagnosis had reared its ugly head again. According to a family member of one of the military victims, the DOD recently, has changed its label of the illness and is now calling it "pneumonia" in sharp contrast to what a physician on the scene reported. Due to continuing pressure for sound answers, the DOD was again forced to send an investigative team to Iraq, however the convenient, repeated lack of diagnosis, unfortunately translates into lack of treatment, and lack of compensation for the veteran. The jury is still out, however, if the DOD will be forthcoming with the truth this time.
Contrary to the "pneumonia" and "mystery illness" labels, enlightening information surfaced today on "THE POWER HOUR" radio show (www.thepowerhour.com) in an interview with Mark Neusche, father of Josh Neusche, one of the GW II troops to lose his life from the "mystery illness" while serving in Iraq. The father stated that his 20-year-old healthy son, a former track star and non-smoker, had written home on June 26th explaining that he would be going on a 30-hour "hauling" mission, but that he could not disclose what they would be hauling. The son had stated that he had been to the Palace of Sadaam Hussein, and it was later learned that he was "hauling" at the Baghdad Airport.
Marsha Paxson also appeared on the show, as she is the journalist who broke the U.S. story for the Lake Sun Leader (www.lakesunleader.com). Although the "facts" behind this story are continually changing, Ms. Paxson is one of the few journalists who is remaining true to the facts of the original story. Ms. Paxson revealed in her articles that the father reported that his son was not the only ill soldier. Neusche stated that while his son was in a coma at Landstuhl Hospital, the father overheard the nurses say that they were expecting numerous sick troops to be brought in all at one time. In fact, the father actually witnessed approximately 55 other troops being received by the hospital after they were transported by a military ambulance (bus). According to the father, the transported troops were exhibiting varying degrees of the illness. Some walked, some were in wheelchairs and others were on respirators. In the commotion, a doctor reported to the father that his son was suffering from a "toxin." No mention of pneumonia was ever made to him, nor was it ever reported in the medical record.
Paxson and the AGWVA now question the diagnosis, the actual number of troops that were reported ill, and when the DOD first became aware of this incident.
One of the most surprising statements to come from The Power Hour interview conducted on "The Genesis Network" was that while the son, Josh Neusche, was a healthy young soldier on June 26, 2003, when he reported that he was going to
serve on the secret hauling mission, by July 1, 2003, he was in a coma, and that day was suddenly classified by the military, as medically retired from the Army without Josh or his family's consent. Josh did not die until July 12, 2003. Among other problems that this new classification created was that the DOD was no longer obligated to assist the family in getting to Germany to be with their son as he lay in a coma. Because the DOD would not provide even so much as plane or taxi fare for the Neusche family, all 650 members of the 203 Engineer Battalion each contributed $10.00 to make the family's final visit possible.
The AGWVA is demanding answers in a timely fashion and according to spokesperson Joyce Riley, "We will not tolerate another whitewashing of a tragedy against our veterans. It has happened too many times before with our failure to safeguard our troops, adequately diagnose and effectively treat the victims of Agent Orange spraying, Project Shad shipboard-experimentation, and Gulf War Illness I. This time someone has to be held accountable." Ms. Riley closed by saying, "Speaking out for our past and present sick veterans is the best way for Americans to support our troops!"
The interview with Mark Neusche and Marsha Paxson can be heard at: www.thepowerhour.com click on the "GWII mystery illness interview."
For more information on Gulf War illnesses, go to www.gulfwarvets.com
For more information on Project Shad, go to www.projectshad.org