IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

June 6, 2003

No. 03-15

Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext.146


VVA Calls For Justice for Troops Exposed
to Nerve Agents In Gulf War

 

(Washington, D.C.) – VVA is saddened but not surprised by the revelation of the General Accounting Office (GAO) that hints at the tampering with estimates of exposures of American troops to toxic agents in the 1991 Gulf War.  According to the GAO, the Pentagon and the CIA used a flawed computer model that appears to have underestimated the number of U.S. troops who may have been exposed to nerve gases.   

“It is unfortunate and unacceptable for our government to have tampered with the truth regarding harmful toxic exposures, this time to the detriment of the troops who fought in the Gulf,” said Thomas H. Corey, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).  

 “VVA calls for accountability from those in the Pentagon who cover up potentially damaging information about the conditions faced by our troops.  This can only lead to uncertainty and pain for service members and their families. Such behavior leads to a cynicism about all Department of Defense's assurances on health care and further erodes the trust in the government by the American people,” Corey said. 

GAO's report recommends that Congress and the Pentagon triple the number of U.S. troops presumed to have been exposed to chemical fallout in a plume of nerve gases following the demolition of an Iraqi weapons depot in March 1991.  Some 350,000 troops – roughly half the U.S. force who served in the Gulf War – may have been exposed. 

Said Corey, “Because there is no real way to determine just how many of our troops were exposed, we urge that Congress adopt the recommendation of the GAO and direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to alter previous assumptions. Secretary Principi must take the steps needed to presume exposure for Gulf War veterans who present with any of the symptoms of illnesses linked to such exposure. Since more veterans have been exposed than were first estimated, as the GAO stated in testimony before the House Government Reform Committee, Congress and the Secretary must work together to accord these veterans and their families some measure of justice. 

"The veterans met their military obligation to their fellow citizens.  Now our elected and appointed officials, must own up to our collective obligation to care for them.” 

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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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