(Washington, D.C.) –
"It is just not right for
this administration to risk the lives of men and women in uniform knowing
that their equipment is defective," said Thomas H. Corey, President of
Vietnam Veterans of America. "If the reports by the General Accounting
Office (GAO) are even partly accurate, this is unconscionable."
Corey was responding to a report on CBS's "60 Minutes," February 16, quoting
GAO sources and supported by Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) and
retired US Army Colonel David Hackworth, declaring that a majority of
the chemical and biological protection equipment issued to the US military
is inadequate at best and absent in many cases.
"It is immoral for this administration to rush into war when our fighting
forces are unprepared for the eventuality of chemical and biological
warfare," Corey continued. "As veterans and as citizens, we have an
obligation to demand that our government take every reasonable step to
ensure the protection of our sons and daughters in the armed forces or
reassess their plans for war. Among these men and women serving today are
our fellow Vietnam veterans and the next generation of veterans.''
According to Shays, who sits on the House National Security Subcommittee and
who voted to authorize the President to use force in Iraq, neither the
"Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense have people who
have the skill to treat, to even detect or treat a chemical or biological
"It is alarming that the administration would so casually place our men and
women in uniform at risk," Corey said. According to "60 Minutes," a top GAO
official reported to Congress last week that training, protective equipment,
and decontamination plans fall far short of what US troops need to survive a
chemical or biological attack. "I am amazed that the administration, knowing
these facts, would continue to prepare for the possibility of a war with
Iraq. It is indefensible."
"We insist the administration and Congress focus immediate attention on
protecting our sons and daughters, and we request no further deployments
until the situation is corrected.''