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Former Air Force Capt. Turned Activist Says Pentagon's Actions Towards Depleted Uranium Use 'Beyond Treason'
Popular activist-broadcaster, Joyce Riley, hits government 'right between the eyes' with powerful new documentary exposing cover-up of depleted uranium illnesses, leaving Gulf War troops sick and dying.
August 24, 2005
By Greg Szymanski
There was a time in former Air Force Capt. Joyce Riley’s life when everything was coming up roses. There was a time when the country girl from Kansas probably felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, traveling down the Yellow Brick Road.
And like an old song says, she had the “world on a string sitting on a rainbow” during the late 1980s, as Capt. Riley fit perfectly into the military scheme of things like a poster-child officer with her boots and epilates shined to the tee every day.
Back in the good old days, Capt. Riley thought she had it all figured out. She thought her life, the military and the world had a nice, neat little yellow ribbon tied around it with smiles, happiness and a taste of the good ole’ Irish whiskey to go around for everybody.
It was a simple, structured, follow orders kind of world Capt. Riley created for herself. It was the kind of world where everything was taken at face value without questioning much else but what was for dinner or who was going to take the dog out for a walk.
Simply put, Capt. Riley was the type of person people like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others in the Pentagon enjoy having around. She was the type that put duty, honor and country first, always trusting and never thinking her superiors could stray from the straight and narrow.
And back in the good old days, Capt. Riley probably would have jumped head first into the Grand Canyon if given an order. She probably would have jumped, thinking all the way down better to die then to disobey an order.
But something strange happened to her on that long fall down into the great abyss. Something happened while floating in thin air over the Grand Canyon that lifted her up, gave her wings and gave her the courage to fly away from military life and, more importantly, fly away from the “yes sir, no sir” in your face type military thinking.
It’s the great Hindu thinkers who say that to truly understand life one must travel full circle, disbelieving what once was believed and, in essence, becoming one’s polar opposite. And, without knowing it or putting any religious labels on her life’s journey, that’s exactly what happened to Captain Riley.
Although her transformation from a military order taker and combat nurse to “military pain in the ass” and activist didn’t happen over night, it happened perhaps like a Kansas tornado strikes. It happened like a sudden burst of wind quickly clearing the excess debris from her soul, leaving in its aftermath a belief system torn to pieces but, at the same time, leaving a body and soul left to be rebuilt brick by brick, one truthful step at a time.
And like most life transformations involving more than one significant event, Capt. Riley’s is no different since her physical problems caused by her stint in the military are every bit as important as the problems with her changing belief system. In fact, both are so intertwined that her physical illness after taking 10 unknown vaccines at one time in 1991, mandated by the military prior to Gulf War I, actually led to her present-day role as anti-government broadcaster, producer of documentaries and activist fighting to save military lives affected by illness and diseases from both Gulf Wars that are not even being recognized by the Pentagon.
“At one time in my life the military was the most noble cause I could ever think of. I remember even writing in my journal back in 1991 how I had 10 vaccine shots in one day and how I would have taken 100 in order to serve my country.” said Riley who now has replaced the captain in her name with truth-seeker, as she talked openly from her home in the Midwest about her “about face” from toeing the military line.
“George H. Bush was my hero back then and I remember getting into my flight suit at Kelly Air Force Base, feeling extremely proud before being deployed into Gulf War I while Bush was on TV saying: ‘This is the beginning of the New World Order.’
“Looking back, it was so ironic. I was so enamored with Bush when he actually sold destructive chemicals and weapons to Iraq in 1985 to 1989. Without me knowing, he was responsible for poisoning us over there while, at the same time, I was eating right out of his hand.”
Although Riley was never deployed to the Middle East, she remained stateside working as a surgical nurse on one of the military’s C-130 flying hospitals until becoming too ill to continue in December 1991.
“I had to quite flying because I was too sick and went into the reserves,” recalls Riley, saying she was diagnosed with a debilitating type disease with MS symptoms, causing extreme pain due to excessive nerve damage. “When I received essentially no help from the military during the next few years, I began searching out alternative cures and medicines since I needed to continue working as a nurse to support myself.”
And it wasn’t until 1995 that Riley’s life drastically changed, becoming her polar opposite on the other side of the military fence, after being shunned by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veteran’s Administration (VA), both organizations refusing to recognize that her illness was even remotely caused by the vaccines taken in 1991.
“I was furious after I called the DOD and the VA and they wouldn’t lift a finger,” said Riley, adding that it was difficult to get answers because the military never labeled or even told troops what vaccines were being administered. “And I found out to my surprise that if you were in the Reserves or the National Guard, you couldn’t even use the VA hospitals. That was a huge shock. I felt deceived.”
With virtually nobody addressing the vaccine problem in the military, Riley set out to find a reason and a causal relationship between her illness and the vaccines. By a quirk of fate and a stroke of Irish luck, she met Dr. Garth Nicholson affiliated with a Houston cancer treatment center, who had been researching Riley’s vaccine-related problems.
“Since a large number of Gulf War I vets were returning with the same symptoms I had, he asked if I would submit to a test he developed,” said Riley. “Sure enough, I tested positive like more than 50 percent of returning Gulf War troops, which showed proof positive the vaccines were most likely causing the illness since I never went to the Middle East.”
Armed with medical evidence, Riley decided to take her campaign to the public air waves in Houston, buying air time on a popular Houston AM station in an attempt to reach out and locate other Gulf War veterans with the same symptoms.
As finances permitted, Riley continued purchasing Saturday air-time, calling her show ‘Nurse Talk Radio,” as she tried to aggressively expose Gulf War I illnesses while also turning against the military she once loved and revered by exposing its failure to care for the ailing troops.
But like a gust of wind from a Kansas tornado, she said after researching and reading a declassified Senate Report numbered 103.97 from the Veterans affairs Committee, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, forcing her to mount an even more aggressive public attack against the military, an attack that is still going on today.
“It changed my life,” said Riley, referring to the Senate report. “I had to go public and I have never stopped since the report was beyond belief and appalling. It said, now get this, that during the past 50 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel have been medically and scientifically experimented upon without their fundamental knowledge or consent. Can you believe that! It’s simply disgusting and unacceptable.
“And when I finally realized the higher-ups in the military could care less if the troops lived or died, my loyalty to the military and all it stood for was completely over. I was now on a campaign and mission to get at the truth and help as many people end their suffering caused by a lack of caring, concern and cooperation by the Pentagon. I realized there was a cover-up and I was the only person in 1996 to come forward.”
Riley not only came forward on Houston radio, compiling documentation from many others suffering from the same vaccine-related illness, but she also testified in 1996 before the Presidential Advisory Commission on Gulf War Illnesses.
Although amounting to mostly political rhetoric, Riley used the public notoriety to form a private grass roots group called the American Gulf War Veterans Association, a group seeking to unite afflicted veterans in order to get redress both medically and financially from the government.
Slowly becoming a driving force behind the Gulf War medical care truth movement, Riley began appearing on numerous radio and television stations as she tried to drive her message home. And it was in the media frenzy of 1996 that another quirk of fate led to another life change, this time a personal change leading her to the altar as she married Dave Von Kleist, an enterprising Connecticut musician, disk jockey and anti-establishment radio talk show host.
“I remember Dave called and wanted me on his show, but he was pretty tough,” recalls Riley, as the pair now how have joined interests and skills, combining since 2001 on a daily morning talk radio show on Genesis Radio called “The Power Hour.”
“So, Dave tells me if what I said was true, to come to Connecticut and prove it. I remember arriving with my documentation and besides appearing on the radio show, being asked to speak before a group of 300 people, including VA people and Congressmen. My information was well-received, but you have to remember back then nobody really knew anything about Gulf War illnesses so it was quite a shock.
And the union between Riley and Von Kleist then moved from the altar to producing their first anti-military video called “Gulf War Illness: Fact or Fiction,” a highly successful documentary still in distribution today and originally sent free to all military personnel geared at getting needed medical help for afflicted veterans.
Riley recalls a cool reception and butting heads with Pentagon officials immediately after the controversial video came out, as she received an arm twisting phone call from Capt. Chalker Brown of the Pentagon.
“He called and asked me to stop sending the video to the military bases, saying that I was really one of them,” said Riley. “I remember telling him if being one of you means allowing troops to die, then I no longer wanted to be a part of the military.
“I also later was banned from speaking at local American Legion Halls by the National American Legion Commander. Back then we used to travel around in our RV, trying to get the message out and particularly trying to help the many vets who were threatening to commit suicide as a result of being ignored by the military.”
As Riley continued to defy Pentagon brass and especially trying to help suicidal veterans, she said not long after the intimidating telephone conversation from Capt. Chalker, she noticed when buying a used RV her credit report and rating was illegally tampered with and her identity stolen.
“I found out my identity had been stolen, $100,000 was charged against my name, 14 credit cards had been maxed-out using my name and even a federal bankruptcy had been charged against me,” recalls Riley, saying she spent one year of her life, as well as spending thousands of dollars in legal expenses trying to clear her name, but never ever being able to absolutely prove the government was behind the illegal activity.
“I of course have my suspicions, but I have never been able to prove the Pentagon was behind it. When I went to the local federal courthouse where the bankruptcy was filed, they even went to the trouble of constructing a large file, all of it bogus but verifying the bankruptcy. My credit report also had five aliases attached so, as you can see, it was the work of somebody wanting to completely destroy my identity, good name and character.”
Furious over possible government retaliation and stonewalling, Riley became even more determined to make the military accountable as her talk radio show, structured to empower people with knowledge, continued to bring numerous people out of the woodwork with Gulf War related illnesses.
With her activism spilling over to the recent Iraqi invasion, she recently has taken up the cause of stopping the illegal use of depleted uranium in the battle field and pointing out its debilitating effects on troops and civilians exposed to high levels of radiation.
Again upset by the Pentagon’s failure to recognize the problem or treat the afflicted troops exposed to radiation, Riley set out to make another video, this time alerting Americans about what amounts to a nuclear war going on Iraq since the invasion as well as the Pentagon’s failure to clean-up the nuclear waste or admit responsibility in taking care of the troops and civilians poisoned by radiation.
“I met with William Lewis and I said If I had one thing to do in my life, it would be this video project,” said Riley about what turned out to be the video released last month called “Beyond Treason,” a documentary that thoroughly analyzes the depleted uranium problem and the government’s lack of concern about hundreds of thousands of sick and dying troops and civilians.
“I thought to myself if I had one shot to tell the world something, this depleted uranium story was it. We wanted to let the world know what was really going on and how the Pentagon really doesn’t care if the troops live or die.
“These kids are coming back from Iraq sick and dying and the military won’t accept responsibility. I wanted everybody to know since the Pentagon has not acknowledged the illness, the VA hospitals cannot treat any of the soldiers for what amounts to something they say doesn’t exist.
“I remember telling Dave that after the new video was released that the suicide calls would start coming in to the show just like after the first video. Sure enough they did and it just breaks my heart as I recently talked to a 23-year-old girl who returned from Iraq who is sick with symptoms of radiation. She also said that out of the 105 who returned in her unit, 93 have reported similar radiation symptoms.
Riley said another major reason behind the video is to alert every family who may have children considering entering the military, saying she wanted them to make an informed decision before sending them.
Riley again is giving away free copies of the video to all vets and enlisted men, having sent out 10,000 so far, adding she intends to distribute millions as she tries to reach every school and church in the country that will listen.
“The invasion of Iraq amounts to nothing less than a nuclear war and hundreds of thousands of people are either going to get sick or die while the government and the Pentagon sits idly by doing nothing,” said Riley.
Riley and Lewis, who wrote and produced the video, were assisted by numerous military and scientific experts, who provided detailed research and proof behind the enormity of the depleted uranium problem.
People like radiation experts Leuren Moret, Marion Fulk and Maj. Doug Rokke, along with Dennis Kyne, Bob Jones and Mark Zeller, have all provided documentation for the explosive video, which directly points the finger at the Pentagon’s nuclear killing fields.
“It has been determined that the equivalent of more than 400,000 Nagasaki bombs has been released in the Middle East since 1991,” said Moret, citing a report and subsequent speech at a 2000 depleted uranium conference given by Professor Yagasaki, a physicist and well-respected nuclear radiation expert.
And in the 89 minute video, exploring a massive government cover up, Riley and Lewis point out the unexplained illnesses in civilians and military personal may be the cause of depleted uranium or perhaps a combination of overlapping causes, including chemical and biological exposure and the use of experimental vaccines.
The writers of Beyond Treason, added:
“The ailing Gulf War heroes from all 27 coalition countries slowly die from of “unknown causes,” they wait for answers from their respective governments, but no satisfying or even credible answers have come forth from the military establishment. Records that span over a decade point to negligence and even culpability on the part of the U.S. Department of Defense and their ‘disposable army” mentality.
“The VA has determined that 250,000 troops are now permanently disabled, 15,000 troops are dead and over 425,000 are ill and slowly dying from what the Department of Defense still calls a mystery disease. How many more will have to die before action is taken?”
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