(Washington, D.C.) –
“The move by the Pentagon,
announced on Monday, to conclude its investigation into secret tests of
chemical and biological weapons in the 1960s is a violation of public trust
-- and the public’s right to know what really happened,” VVA President
Thomas H. Corey said.
Corey called for Congress to
establish and empower an independent office to investigate not only the
alleged exposures perpetrated on unwitting sailors and soldiers, but other
toxic issues as well. These include the diseases and undiagnosed symptoms
that constitute Gulf War illnesses.
“For the Pentagon to end its
investigation based on an arbitrary end date will cause hardship for those
veterans and their families who still have many unanswered questions as to
what toxic agents they may have been exposed to while serving in the U.S.
Armed Forces. Many veterans have yet to be notified of their exposures in
these tests and have yet to been seen by VA clinicians,” Corey said.
Project 112 was a secret program
that exposed sailors and soldiers, without their knowledge or consent, to a
variety of toxic chemical and biological agents. These tests included two
agents that simulate the infectious profile of anthrax and bacillus globigii,
which has been associated with a number of opportunistic infections, VA
Vietnam Veterans of America joins
with those members of Congress who have asked Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld to refrain from closing the investigation into Project 112. The
Defense Department investigation confirms that classified medical records
exist. Veterans will need to obtain these medical records so they may
qualify for healthcare and compensation when due. Currently the Department
of Defense intends to close the investigation without releasing the relevant
classified medical records.
VVA believes it is Congress that
should determine what the evidence dictates, whether or not the
investigation into Project 112 should be continued or terminated. On a
regular basis, we receive new information from SHAD veterans that raises new
questions. VVA believes that further examination of the issue is not only
appropriate, but necessary. VVA, through our Project 112/SHAD Task Force,
will do all that we can to assist with any special investigation.