October 23, 1999
To: Joyce Riley and the American Gulf War Veterans Association
I am making this statement to go on record as saying I strongly support the efforts of Joyce Riley and the American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) taken on behalf of our Gulf War veterans. I have attended three of her presentations, read the documented evidence and viewed the films. There can be no doubt that she is telling the truth and the government is lying.
It is indeed unfortunate that the major media has ignored irrefutable evidence while serving as a conduit for whatever is presented by the government. This disgraceful chapter in our history would never have happened if the major media had simply done its job---investigate and report the truth.
On October 19, 1999 I listened to a representative from the DOD state that perhaps the pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills may be the cause of the unexplained illnesses in our Gulf War veterans. She stated essentially that these pills were the best the DOD could provide to counter what the DOD perceived as an ominous threat to our troops by the nerve agent, soman. She then continued that faced with the same situation she would again recommend the use of PB pills. Her statement told me that she favors giving our military personnel experimental drugs.
Later that same day (10/19/99) I listened to a local veteran being interviewed on the late evening news. She stated she did not take the pills; she hid them. However, she was forced to take a series of three shots. She further stated they wouldn't tell her what was in the shots, nothing was entered into her shot record and her medical records subsequently disappeared. Please note that her tour was in Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, and her unit never came under any type of attack.
Some additional stonewalling and false leads were in the news on October 20, 1999. Pentagon spokeswoman, LTC Dian Lawhon is quoted as saying, "We've been a lot faster this time around than after Vietnam. The important thing is that we give veterans health care." Obviously she and I view things differently. I wondered how many veterans had to die before she decided the government was responding. Superficial physicals and telling veterans they need some mind altering drug like prozac may be her idea of health care but to me it's a slap in the face of every person who ever wore a military uniform.
Bernard Rostker, head of the DOD's Gulf War illnesses investigations is quoted as saying, "We just don't know." My, such intellectual depth and insight. I read that this same Bernard Rostker stated that, "People who listen to Joyce Riley are the same people who believe in black helicopters." Obviously Mr. Rostker Mdoesn't live in reality. The news has contained numerous stories of the military conducting urban training exercises over a number of our cities which included soldiers rappelling from "black" helicopters. Mr. Rostker's comment was typical of the many unsubstantiated comments from the government regarding this issue; all designed to create the impression that something is being done while leading the public down another blind alley.
It troubles me that General Norman Schwarzkopf stated to members of Congress that our troops would only be given the experimental drugs after their fully informed consent. I have yet to learn of anyone in the military who was afforded this opportunity.
Why haven't people like Mr. Rostker discussed the presence of mycoplasma fermentens (incognitus strain) in the blood samples of many of our veterans? How did this altered organism get there? Why is it found in the blood samples of veterans who received shots but never were in the Gulf War area?
DOD officials have gone from a complete denial of the presence of chemical agents in the Gulf area, to acknowledging some may have escaped when a bunker was blown at Khamisiyah, to now conceeding that, "...more Gulf War soldiers than had been previously estimated were potentially exposed to nerve agents from the demolition of Iraqi chemical weapons in 1991."
The DOD officials never discuss the fact that this bunker was in fact, a vast munitions storage area. U.S.
military personnel who entered the storage facilities noted some munitions color-coded to identify biological and chemical munitions. Further, some of the boxes indicated they came from the U.S.A.
DOD officials never mention the statements made by former Senator Donald W. Reigle to members of Congress. They also don't discuss the contents of the congressional reports compiled as a result of his investigations. Yet these papers alone prove the government is engaged in stonewalling and other tactics designed to lead the American people down blind alleys. Clearly, we are in the midst of a massive cover-up.
It is documented in the Reigle reports that the United States provided Iraq with the type of toxic agents that could have been used to form the basis for offensive chemical and biological weapons programs. Further, there is extremely compelling evidence in the book, Spider's Web, by Alan Friedman, to show that the White House secretly and illegally armed Iraq. Thus, our military personnel were sent against a military force that was largely made in the U.S.A.
What disturbs me the most about this sordid mess is that the government is either calling our veterans a pack of liars or acting like they don't exist. I am referring to the stories told by our veterans of explosions in the air above their units followed by the classic symptoms of exposure to chemical agents (burning sensation on the skin, watery eyes, running nose, difficulty breathing). This tells me that some of our troops were the victims of chemical warfare. The fact that thousands of chemical alarms sounded and trained personnel from U.S. and other coalition forces detected chemical agents simply adds credence to this issue.
The government's position relative to the Gulf War Syndrome issue is not compatible with honor and the inherent responsibility of taking care of those who are sent to war. To abandon our veterans is a repugnant act. Although there are a number of pieces to this puzzle, the solutions are not complex and the government must stop its futile search for the one cause of the Gulf War illnesses and stop using it as an excuse to delay, delay and delay.
I rule out depleted uranium, oil smoke and similar factors because their impact, if any, is probably minor. I believe the major cause for the Gulf War illnesses then become quite obvious.
-Chemical agents: Clearly, some of our troops were exposed to toxic chemical agents. We know this because of the chemical alarms, testimony from our troops and the detonation of the vast complex at Khamisiyah. (It's worth noting that exposure to a chemical agent does not make one contagious)
-Experimental drugs: Regarding PB pills, Senator Jay Rockefeller stated, "In my view, the conclusion was inescapable that military men and women were being needlessly subjected to a possibly unsafe and ineffective treatment without informed consent." I agree. Years have passed and Bernard Rostker is saying, "We just don't know." Pentagon officials state, "...more study is needed." Our scientists are not incompetent. If the DOD had given proper priority to determining the affect of PB pills on the human body, I believe we would know after all these years. Clearly, the DOD has been all talk and no action.
Some of our sick veterans received only shots and others received both shots and PB pills. Others became ill who only received shots and didn't go to the Gulf War area. Also there are those who received shots, PB pills and were exposed to chemical agents. (Biological agents could have been released in those explosions over our military personnel).
When people receive the flue vaccine, pneumonia vaccine or some other vaccine, the chemical makeup of the vaccine is known. What was the exact chemical makeup of the shots given to our servicemen and women? Why hasn't this been disclosed and made available to scientists who could do the proper studies? It appears like the government doesn't want to pursue this avenue.
And so it goes. The government from time to time makes some gradiose pronouncement about its efforts to solve this dilemma. Yet, in actuality, its efforts haven't solved anything. It needs more time. More studies need to be done. The problem is difficult, and on and on and on.
I realize that discipline is the glue that binds the military. Without it the military becomes ineffective. Yet, I support those who currently refuse to take the series of anthrax vaccinations.
There was a time when I wouldn't have made such a statement. I received numerous shots during my brief tour in the U.S. Marine Corps and subsequent career in the U.S. Army. I never questiond the need for any of them and always assumed that those in authority were looking out for my welfare. It wasn't until I did extensive research that I realized that even while I was on active duty, the CIA and DOD had been conducting chemical, biological and radiological experiments on thousands of civilians and military personnel without their knowledge or consent. Some of these experiments can best be described as sadistic, brutal and perverted. It's the type of thing that most Americans would associate with Nazi Germany and people like Dr. Mengele. Yet our government has been experimenting on its own citizens like they were nothing more than laboratory rats. I believe this uncaring attitude by government officials contributes to a distrust of the government by members in the military. It follows that some of them would refuse to take the anthrax vaccinations. Some of them surely know that their government abandoned the victims of Agent Orange and did such things as give thousands of military personnel experimental vaccines without their fully informed consent.
I believe our only solution is to go through our members in Congress. These people, for good or bad, represent us at the national level. I urge everyone to contact their members in Congress and do it again and again and again.Whether you use E-mail, FAX or phone or send a letter or postcard, you must do it often. We must inundate Congress to a degree never before experienced. We must be relentless. For those of you who may not have done the research and are not convinced that this issue is about a massive government coverup, I urge you to contact the AGWVA and obtain the proof.
As Joyce Riley would say'
For God and country,
Leonard J. Coenen, LTC USA (Ret)
Gulf War Vets Home Page