Sister Soldier: A Chronicle of Life After Iraq
By R. B. STUART
A new kind of battle wound is emerging from the war in Iraq: Cancer. Since the Gulf War and most recently the War in Iraq, US soldiers are being diagnosed with tumors; malignant and benign. They have been diagnosed with cancer's ranging from Dysgerminoma 'the Germ cancer,' to Testicular cancer, Lung cancer, Colon cancer, Ovarian cancer, Breast cancer and "Eighty percent of the soldiers who have retured with cancer, have blood cancer: Leukemia," stated an undisclosed source in June at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Walter Reed is receiving medical evacuations daily. The culprit, stricken soldiers say is a combination of factors: the Anthrax vaccine, enriched Uranium AKA depleted Uranium (leftover radioactive nuclear waste which our armor penetrating missiles and munitions are composed of and the same material the US is now barring Iran from using, only cloaked in the media as enriched Uranium; the process it goes through in order to make it depleted Uranium). The radioactive drenched soil in Iraq from past battles was reported in 2003 by journalist Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, with a Geiger counter registering radiation in Baghdad 1,900 times higher than normal...... imagine now three years later. In March 2006, it was discovered that the water soldiers were bathing, washing their clothes and ingesting was contaminated
The company responsible for this recent violation against our military men and women assigned to filter the water in Iraq is a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, an engineering firm with former ties to Vice President Dick Cheney. They were contracted to cook for the soldiers and purify the water early on when the war first began. Army Captain Chaplain Fran E. Stuart of the 101st Airborne based for one year in Mosul, Iraq said, 'she ate the food they prepared for the soldiers daily.' Unbeknownst, to her and many others, the water and food she was ingesting was carrying contaminants, bacteria and viruses. Coupled with the airborne toxic dust from the munitions penetrating their food: depleted Uranium.
In May 2005 Wil Granger, the Theatre Water Quality Manager for Kellogg, Brown and Root in Iraq stated in his report, "This event should be considered a near miss as the consequences of these actions could have been very severe resulting in mass sickness or death." This current Cheney scandal has yet to reach the White House and the Bush Administration, as it appears the weapons of mass destruction are our own. As we are maiming and killing our own military men and women for this fight for oil disguised as democracy---it's a far cry from America the Beautiful. As the contaminated water and food, depleted Uranium and unapproved Anthrax vaccine is swept under the Oriental carpets of the White House, a few soldiers are finally stepping up to say this is enough.
Captain Stuart recalls, 'feeling extremely ill the first week in Mosul with a high fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea lasting well over two weeks.' Unknowingly, she along with 75 percent of her camp was exhibiting symptoms of radiation poisoning. The battalion medic advised, 'It's going around...drink more fluids.' Military regulations require dosimeters to be given in theatre when radiation exposure is suspected. It consists of a simple urinalysis within 24 hours of exposure which informs the soldier and medical staff of the amount of absorption (cGy), through inhalation or ingestion, and what procedures to follow. This RER information (Radiation Exposure Records) is logged in the soldiers personnell files and determines whether or not he/she is deployable. And informs the soldier of the possible adverse health risks from radiation exposure. The military's maximum ALORE (acceptable level of occupational radiation exposure) is 75 cGy---well beyond the maximum 5 cGy's of radiation the average civilian is exposed to within the environment. The symptom's Stuart and others were exhibiting put them in the category of 150 - 300 cGy's of total body absorption. These high levels of radiation are evident from the inhalation and ingestion of DU with the added health consequences of Cancer. And once DU has entered the body through the lungs or esophagus it then infiltrates the cells throughout the body where it continues to emit radiation.
This crime against humanity began in 2000 with an increase of cancer in Iraqi civilian's and military from DU in the first Gulf War (1991). (It was reported in September 2004 in IRIN [United Nations Office for The Communication of Humanitarian Affairs] Dr. Thikra Najim, a specialist in GYN has seen an increase in tumors & leukemia. And November 2004 IRIN, Dr. Janan Ghalib Hassan, Mother & Child Hospital in Basra, has tracked DU and expects 2008 to be devastation in Iraq.) And it has within the last two years begun to erupt within our own military men and women as Iraq now overflows with DU.....so do they, as the US Military has become the dumping ground for our governments nuclear waste. How patriotic.....
In March 2006, the 40 year old Captain Stuart was diagnosed with a rare and agressive stage IV Dysgerminoma cancer after serving one year in Iraq. She faces her own battles daily on an aggressive chemo regimen. "My body isn't mine anymore. I can feel the tumors inside of me. I look like a monster," she mourned with patches of her strawberry blond hair falling out and a 12 inch scar down her belly.
Army Sergeant First Class, Charles Frenzel, with over thirty years in the military has been stationed in the last four years at Ft. Jackson, Ft. Lee (US) and Camp Caldwell, Iraq. He was on assignment in Iraq when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in October 2005. He was medEvac to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where a 8.5 by 4.5 inch non-malignant Meningioma was removed only six months after her was deployed to Iraq. SFC Frenzel said he believed the cause of the tumor to be, "I think Sadam had a lot more advanced chemical programs than what was originally suspected. I was exposed to daily oil smog. Iraq burns straight non-processed, crude oil, and the smog was horrific. The water was contaminated, and the contractor (KBR) the US had hired to clean the soldier's water is suspected of not having done their jobs. We were bathing in contaminated water and having our clothes washed in the same," he informed.
When asked how wide spread he thought it was. "I have no idea. I was stationed in only the one area and did not see much of the rest of Iraq. I feel that there are many soldier's returning with cancer/tumors. This is based on the amount of soldier's that I ran into at Walter Reed with those illnesses," SFC Frenzel stated. SFC Frenzel has received his care from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and has considered it, "only the best of medical care."
Army Sergeant, Charles E. Lewis of the 101st Airborne Division for eight years has been stationed over the last four years in Camp Humphreys, South Korea; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Mosul, Iraq; Kuwait; Baghdad, Iraq where he is today. SGT Lewis was diagnosed with stage II Testicular cancer (Semanoma) in April 2005. In January he had his yearly physical and in March a sperm count was done. Because of the low sperm count he had an appointment for Urology. It was in April during the initial consultation with urology that the doctor discovered that 85 percent of SGT Lewis' right testicle was a tumor. After CT scans were examined there was also a mass discovered in his sperm tract. When asked what he believed the cause to be. "We're unsure. There was no family history. We asked the doctors if being in Iraq had anything to do with it, but most weren't sure," he said. How wide spread does he think it is? "We had been told before to contact the VA to see, but they would not give us any information. Four different people we know and who have been in combat with me have either had tumors removed or have been tested for cancer. But we have often questioned if Iraq or vaccinations could have played a part in this cancer," SGT Lewis commented.
Initially, SGT. Lewis was to be non-deployable for the next two years due to periodic screening, then three weeks before deployment they declared him fit for duty. SGT Lewis had his first round of testing done in November but it should have been October. With SGT Lewis currently in Iraq, the care it seems is scattered. He supposed to be getting blood work and CT scans done every three months, but it's closer to four.
Army Captain Tonya Fagan (retired) was stationed in 2003 with Stuart in Baghdad and Mosul, Iraq for six months. A year and a half ago her pap test came back abnormal and she was diagnosed with stage II Cervical cancer. She underwent three months of radiation and is clear of the cancer, but by no means does she feel she's in good health.
The fear of most soldiers with a disease or illness is the military's decision to either pay you your benefits or reap the rewards for themselves. Since cancer isn't considered a "war wound," and it should be when obvious carcinogens are present. Some, even after being vested 20 years in the military are being medically discharged and deemed unfit for duty as opposed to medical retirement. The former means you're not eligible to collect your full medical benefits whereas if the board decides the latter, you are set for life.....although you are also faced with a lifetime of possible reoccurrances.
The military's use of depleted Uranium since the first Gulf War in 1991 was 286 metric tons. And in Kosovo/Serbia in 1999, 9.5 metric tons and thus far Iraq in 2003, over 320 metric tons which have a half life of 4.5 billion years, and total disintegration estimated after 25 billion years. Depleted Uranium on the ground will eventually sink into the soil penetrating the ground water and if ingested causing long term side effects including Gulf War Syndrome, birth defects, lung cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and kidney damage for American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
A defense contractor Alliant Techsystems in Edina, Minnesota America's largest maker of ammunition, half of which it sells to the Pentagon has annual revenues of $2.2 billion. The war has been good to companies that manufacture DU weapons. Alliant's production of DU shells set a fifteen-year record, and CEO Paul David Miller took home $16.8 million in bonuses and stock options. Defense giant General Dynamics, meanwhile, watched sales in its combat-systems group, which provides DU shells for the Army, nearly double since 2000. There's a reason that DU shells are so profitable: The raw material is all-but free. Eager to dispose of 1 billion pounds of depleted uranium accumulating in federal installations since the Manhattan Project, Washington sells the waste to munitions makers for pennies on the dollar.
Captain Fran E. Stuart added there was a court ordered injunction in 2004 against forced use of the Anthrax vaccine allowing soldiers to refuse it. But as of last year Dec. 19, 2005 (CIDRAP News) in a two year legal battle over the US military's anthrax vaccination program, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has reaffirmed its earlier finding that the Anthrax vaccine used by the military is safe and effective for preventing all forms of anthrax so the DoD is seeking to reinstate it.
Since 1998 more than 1.3 million people have received the Anthrax vaccine, called Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA), in the DoD program. But the vaccine has been dogged by concerns about alleged side effects. Hundreds of service members have refused the shots, and some have been punished or forced out of the military. The Deployment Health Support for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in Virginia states between March 1998 and February 2001, more than two million doses of the Anthrax vaccine has been administered to more than 500,000 service members. We have yet to uncover these long term health effects.
Copyright 2006, R. B. Stuart all rights reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.