IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

February 20, 2003

No. 03-06

Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext.146


 

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CRITICAL OF INADEQUATE CHEMICAL/BIOLOGICAL PROTECTION
 


(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 injury."

"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.''

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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