Rick Anderson / Soldier Mistreatment Bulletin – 2007-05-05 08:47:16
HOME FRONT: The Government’s War on Soldiers
by Rick Anderson / Soldier Mistreatment Bulletin
Foreword by Francis A. Boyle
Inspired by the untold story of Sgt. Joe Hooper, Vietnam’s most decorated solider and a home-front causality, Home Front chronicles how — in the midst of his war — George Bush has cut benefits of both veterans and frontline troops.
It reveals how the Pentagon has ordered soldiers to take experimental medicines that sometimes prove fatal, how defense contractors sometimes knowingly delivery faulty weapons to troops, and how the true casualty measure of war is the body count — the medical failures, psychological toll and the uninvestigated suicides — that occurs on the home front.
Only 148 soldiers were killed in the 1991 Gulf War, but 11,000 have died since. New figures show that one third of the 696,000 Gulf I troops have sought war-related medical treatment. A similar pattern is emerging today in Gulf II.
Home Front reports the widespread effects of the government’s weapons, medicines and bureaucracies of mass destruction: the use of vaccines that have led to mysterious deaths among both troops and civilians, and the likely emergence of Gulf War II Illness, a cocktail of ailments similar to Gulf War I Illness — the modern day version of Vietnam’s Agent Orange.
It details the health and medical issues facing American military personnel and veterans, and investigates the military/bureaucratic politicking behind them.
It includes comprehensive documentation from the CDC, VA, and Pentagon to explain the illnesses, syndromes and symptoms, and an insight into veterans’ battles over medical services, intractable policy, and VA hospital conditions. Public and classified military experiments are detailed along with the “friendly fire” effects of anthrax vaccine and depleted uranium.
Rick Anderson is a former columnist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times and staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle; he has also written for the Village Voice, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones and Salon. He won the Heywood Broun Award for human rights journalism. His story,”Crippled Home Front,” for Seattle Weekly where he now writes, is displayed at the Arlington National Cemetery website.
FRANCIS A. BOYLE is a well-known expert in international law.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Francis A. Boyle / 13
Author’s Note / 19
Introduction / 21
Joe Soldier: “No-value-added” casualties on the home front / 21
A military-industrial complexion / 24
Funeral Muzak / 27
Between Iraq and a hard place / 33
The Cocktail Effect: America’s New Agent Orange / 40
The Vietnam connection / 40
A chemical and biological hangover / 42
The head cases / 43
Military-related illness: A history of misdiagnoses / 46
Gulf War II illness / 49
The smallpox vaccine: opening Pandora’s Box? / 52
No mystery deaths? / 55
Saddam’s WMD: Made in the USA / 57
Toxic black rain / 60
Portable WMD / 61
Fear of the unproved / 64
Death by Friendly Fire: The Anthrax Vaccine / 67
Shooting Sandra / 67
130 percent disabled / 69
Get shot, that’s an order / 72
BioPort in a storm / 74
Unlicensed, experimental, and good to go / 76
AVA innocent until proved guilty / 80
No shortage of AVA horror stories / 84
Anthrax vaccination for every American? / 89
Depleted Uranium/Depleted Forces / 93
Making Geiger counters sing / 93
A rash of censorship / 97
DU on the home front / 99
The graveyard factor / 101
The Rat Brigade: Medical Testing on Soldiers / 105
‘What did they give me?’ / 105
CIA Project OFTEN / 107
MKULTRA mind control experiments / 108
A brief history of human experimentation in America / 109
Senate Report: Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health? / 112
Missing records / 116
The Khamisiyah exposures / 118
Hypocrisy at war / 122
Biowar endangerment of American civilians / 124
Squalene: A Pattern of Deception and Denial / 127
Stonewalling the evidence / 127
Purely scientific lies / 129
A moral victory / 130
Better Soldiers Through Chemistry / 131
Murder, suicide, rape and-doping? / 131
Why Lariam? / 132
Doping up for America / 133
Psycho Tuesday, and a fear of Nazis / 136
Domestic Violence, the other bitter pill / 139
Rape, another military ‘drug’ / 142
The Fortunes of War Production / 145
User-deadly weapons / 145
The Harrier attack jet: a “widow maker” / 145
The Boeing Chinook’s non-conforming gears / 147
Forgive and forget / 150
The business of war is. / 155
The Unkindest Cuts: Government Giveth and Taketh Away / 160
Yesterday’s promises / 160
Rescuing Sergeant Turner / 166
Be kind enough to die / 169
‘Heal me’ / 173
Broken promises then and now / 174
The Other Cocktail Effect / 176
William Allen’s bar brawl / 176
A legislative dental extraction / 178
The heroes’ war at home / 180
Epilogue / 185
Endnotes / 187
Bibliography / 195
Index / 197
“Use ’em, abuse ’em and lose ’em. This has been the US military mantra since before George Washington slapped on a pair of boots. This brilliant work documents it all. A searing condemnation of an ungrateful nation.”
— David H. Hackworth, Colonel, U.S. Army Retired, Author of Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts
“I don’t know why the government, if it cares so much about its troops, isn’t saying ‘My God, 200,000 disabled in that war, 11,000 dead! What did we do?'”
— Joyce Riley, Former Army flight nurse and veterans’ advocate
“Every American who has a child contemplating joining the military for any reason should buy him or her a copy of this book to read… This book provides an extremely moving, compelling and irrefutable account of what happens to the young men and women of America when they go into the military, and also when they come home — if they do.”
— Francis A. Boyle from the Foreword
“Anderson’s books should be flogged side-by-side every military recruitment center and recruitment fair booth. Every high school should have several copies readily available for students,”
— Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice
For full review go to: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/04/%e2%80%9cdumb-stupid-animals-to-be-used%e2%80%9d-the-us-war-against-its-troops/
When Johnny Comes Home
Home Front: The Government’s War on Soldiers
by Rick Anderson
Clarity Press, Inc., 2004,
review by Joe Martin of Real Change News, Seattle’s Alternative Newspaper
The valiant tradition of journalistic muckraking is alive and well. Walking in the path blazed by renowned American investigative reporters like Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell is Seattle Weekly’s Rick Anderson. Long ago he established his credentials as a friend of common folk by writing about people and issues often underreported in much of the media.
Anderson doesn’t shy away from controversial stories related to Seattle city politics, Boeing, the UW, the state Department of Social and Health Services, or the criminal underworld. By turns Anderson can be funny and sarcastic, and he can write with erudition and the kind of gravitas that packs a mean journalistic punch.
In this formidable reporter’s first ever book, Home Front, Anderson’s versatile skills are on full display. The result is a brutal account of the medical and social plight of discharged American military veterans and present-day enlisted men and women. Every young kid who might be contemplating a career in the armed forces would do well to peruse its pages before sauntering down to the recruitment office.
It is must reading for social workers and medical personnel within and without the labyrinthine system of the Veterans Administration. Many will be shocked to learn that despite the $401.3 billion Pentagon budget set for 2004 – that’s 45 percent of all the world’s total military expenditures – there is often inadequate assistance for veterans who need help with lingering physical and psychological ailments precipitated by their experiences in the military.
Anderson’s book is hair-raising. In the execution of contemporary warfare, embattled areas of the world become contaminated with a panoply of toxic chemicals and radioactive substances that cause a broad spectrum of maladies. If that were not bad enough for both combatants and the hapless indigenous civilians who must continue to survive in those devastated terrains, United States military personnel are simultaneously fair game for medicinal experimentation at the hands of their commanders.
“They’re the soldiers and veterans,” writes Anderson, “who have increasingly been injected, gassed, medicated, experimented on and exposed to chemicals by their own government in recent decades.” Any enlistee who protests the routine administration of vaccines of questionable safety can be accused of insubordination and subject to a less than honorable discharge.
Often, these vaccines and other medications that are given to our troops – ostensibly to protect them from the extensive health threats that pervade 21st century battlefields – are not approved by the FDA. Anderson reports on the dismal fate of those who have suffered physical and mental hardship after the ingestion of these substances. Some veterans have died following horrible ordeals.
Adding insult to injury is the Feres Doctrine, a piece of legal legerdemain implemented in 1950 of which many are unaware. Anderson defines the doctrine as “a body of law that holds that a serviceman cannot sue the government for putting him or her in harm’s way. The doctrine helped the government avoid damages most notably for injuries to service members caused by its freaky LSD experiments in the 1960’s.”
Anderson writes of an attorney named Derek Braslow. He represents a group of vets who are trying to argue that private corporations which sell the Department of Defense “an experimental and defective vaccine” should be held liable for such slimy profiteering. “If Feres prevails,” Braslow admitted to Anderson, “we have nowhere to go. Then no one is responsible.”
The gallimaufry of vaccines, compounded by the environmental contamination of today’s battlefields have combined to create a pernicious “cocktail effect.” This condition accounts for a nauseating spectrum of illnesses that manifest themselves over time and can result in psychosis, suicide, and murderous behavior, in addition to degrees of physical debilitation.
Anderson reports that 11,000 veterans of the first Gulf War have died since 1991, even though their average age while in the service was 36. Two hundred and fourteen thousands veterans of that war have filed for disability benefits; at present 161,000 of these vets have been granted such status.
Many of them believe that the cause of their myriad physical and psychological problems “has something to do with serving in the most toxic war in military history. So far.” Keep in mind that the official casualty figures for the U.S. forces during the Gulf War of 1991 – compiled at that point in time – were 293 killed and 467 wounded. The tale told grimly by Anderson reveals that the war’s lethality for many thousands of common soldiers did not end in 1991.
Scattered throughout this informative work is the constant reminder of war’s profitability for businesses that make the medicines, vaccines, chemicals, bombs, bullets and related materiel that seem indispensable to the 21st century practice of megaton mayhem.
“War, if good for anything,” observes Anderson, “is great for business.” Even the leftover waste from nuclear weapons development, known as depleted uranium (DU), turns an odious profit as a component of armor piercing projectiles. Anderson writes: “U.S. forces used more than 300 tons of DU weapons during Desert Storm. Troops in 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom fired off hundreds of tons more.”
Radiation levels in parts of downtown Baghdad had levels of radiation “1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal background radiation levels.” A former Pentagon nuclear physicist, Dr. Douglas Rokke, has condemned the use of DU weapons as “a crime against humanity.” Citizens of the Puget Sound should be alarmed to know that “the Navy has been firing DU rounds in exercises off the Washington state coast, near the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, since 1977.”
The list of businesses which get fat off war’s fury, from banks to weapons manufacturers, is an impressive one. Notably, Vice President Cheney’s former place of employment, Halliburton, will earn “a $500 million profit from the taxpayers on the Iraq contract alone.” Concerning Boeing, Anderson writes that it is “the United States’ major supplier of military weapons to allied countries and its potential new military programs include the ground missile-defense system, Star Wars II, with a price tag of more than $200 billion. War or the threat of it has its rewards.”
But for too many weary vets, sickened in body and soul by the scars of battle, rewards are few indeed. Anderson details the sad saga of Joe Hooper, a Vietnam vet whose ghost haunts this book. Hooper was the most highly decorated soldier to serve in Vietnam, “a war he came to hate as much as did the people who called him baby killer when he returned.” He earned more medals than either Alvin York or Audie Murphy; and his life fell completely apart when he returned home and reentered the civilian sphere.
Anderson got to know Hooper and came to appreciate him as a man as well as a friend. He died in 1979, a victim of alcohol and despair. The VA system should have been there as a life raft for Hooper, but in the end it failed him. David Willson, another vet and Hooper’s friend, asks, “If we can’t save our heroes, who can we save?”
In an August 27 report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one highly distraught and angry National Guardsman – recently returned from Iraq – admitted that as soon as he got off the plane at McChord Air Force Base, “I wanted to start tearing people’s heads off.” A lot of young soldiers are returning from Bush’s fiasco in the Middle East with a plentiful dose of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
This same vet comments insightfully: “Those guys on the side of the road with the cardboard signs, I can see how they got there… I’m afraid of losing everything I came home to.” He is 35 years old.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush is busy cutting away at the already paltry benefits available to veterans and their families.
It has been known for some time that a sizeable percentage of the homeless are veterans. A 1996 Urban Institute study estimated that anywhere from 529,000 to 840,000 vets were homeless at any given time in the course of a year. It’s safe to say that those figures have not changed much and may indeed have worsened in the intervening years.
The VA itself figures that 299,321 veterans are homeless every night of the year, and that annually more than a half million vets are homeless at some time. One thing would seem to be certain: a whole new wave of troubled service men and women will be arriving on our streets, in our jails, and at the doors of homeless shelters in the near future.
Rick Anderson’s compelling work – it is truly an anti-war book – will give us a good overview of how they got there.
“The Pentagon says that a total of 40,000 troops have deserted their posts (not simply those serving in Iraq) since the year 2000.”
— The Sunday Times, (August 27, 2006).
“Last year, more than 260,000 veterans could not sign up for services because of cost-cutting.”
— Hope Yen, (Associated Press, May 22, 2006)
“Thirty-five percent of Iraq veterans received mental health care during their first year home, according to a new Pentagon study.”
— CBS/AP (March 1, 2006)
“1st Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV had to reimburse the US Army $700 last week for body armor and other gear damaged after he was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.”
— The Charleston Gazette, (Feb. 8, 2006).
“Around 317,000 veterans who received a primary or secondary diagnosis of PTSD were treated at medical centers run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs in 2005.”
— “Iraq War Leaves Mental Scars for Civilians, US Troops Alike” (Washington, AFP, yahoo.com)
A British Court has recognized for the first time that a former soldier was suffering from Gulf War Syndrome and should receive an invalid pension. The U.S. army has rejected this term for 14 years.
— “British Tribunal Recognizes Gulf War Syndrome”
Agence France Presse, (November 1, 2005)
“Last year, the VA spent $4.3 billion on PTSD disability payments and the VA hopes to reduce these payments by revoking PTSD benefits for many veterans. This will be the final insult to soldiers who were asked to fight a war in Iraq on false premises.”
— Gene C. Gerard (Truthout, Oct. 17, 2005).
“[N]ine months after Loria [lost his arm] … the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt… This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.”
— Donna St. George. “For Injured Troops, ‘Financial Friendly Fire'” (Washington Post, Oct. 14, 2005).
“The federal government this summer began notifying about 300,000 veterans of the latest neurological problem linked to service in Iraqi in 1991 — brain cancer. It was the third time the government had warned veterans about
neurological problems. Brain-cancer death joined amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and fibromyalgia among the attacks upon nervous systems stemming from the Gulf War.”
— Mike Barber, “Ailing Veterans Blame Their MS on Gulf War”
Seattle Post Intelligencer (Sept. 28, 2005)
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