(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.
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).
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.
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.
“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.
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.”