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Dear FRONTLINE,

Excellent program, very thorough examination of the issues and the protagonists. Disturbing to see the publicity-hungry politicians in action with no real interest in defining the problem. The President's Commission did us all proud the way that they conducted their thorough and logical examination of the facts. Their findings that the Gulf Veterans illnesses were not a unique syndrome, but were what could be expected in any population group of 750,000.

Does anyone else see the similarity to the medical studies that showed that the silicon breast implant population of 1,000,000 has the same percentage of the same medical problems as 1,000,000 women without implants...and that the implantees are just as much in denial of the medical facts as the Gulf War Syndrome Vets!

Redondo Beach, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

On the subject of the program you just aired on the Persian Gulf War and the effect on Gulf War Veterans - Gulf War Syndrome/Illness, I am very disturbed that you had someone like Dr. Joseph make the statements that he made at the end of the program.

This man has done nothing for the Gulf War Veterans, but call us nothing more then stressed out crazies, who are suffering from nothing more then their own sick mind games.

I, as a veteran am appalled by his remarks, and I am here to tell you that the government tried that with me, thanks to a Army shrink that knew nothing about me, and without even doing any testing, he hung on me the PTSD anchor. It took me almost three years, and five different shrinks to finally get them to admit that I didn't have PTSD, Combat Stress, or any other stress related effects of the war.

Why don't you do something more constructive then have a program that is orchestrated to the slant of the government who have been trying to hide the truth from the veterans and the public for the past seven years. I thought that your Network was for truth and based on facts, not on lies and deception.

We veterans are not like our father, grandfathers or great grandfathers, who took the words of the government as the truth, even though they knew that it wasn't, when it came to Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI. The government has always lied to its soldiers when it was for the good of the government. All they want to do is cover their own behinds to secure that they don't go to jail for putting their soldiers in harms way.

We are the soldiers of the new military, who are smarter, able to think on our feet faster, fight better and with less effort then our forefathers did. We know how to use the deadliest weapons on earth known to man today. We can analyze a situation come to a conclusion and act on the conclusion, ten times faster the our forefathers ever could imagine.

Why don't you do something on the Gulf War Veterans, who are sick, but are fighting from every corner of this country from our homes, because we can't do the fighting anymore on our feet, because they don't work that well nowadays, due to degenerative joint diseases, chronic fatigue, memory loss and a multitude of other ailments that make us less then half as what we were before the war.

I am posting this also to the Veterans Web Net to let all veterans know who we are, and what we are. We will not, and have not taken a back seat to the governments inability of not telling us the truth, and we will get the truth told as to what has happened to all of us.

Respectfully,
Ken Rogers, Sr.
PGWVIRC
Leavenworth, Ks

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you Frontline for finally putting together a report that was factual on GWS! I have watched the sensationalist reporting from many other groups in the press, and vote grabbing politicians with dismay for years. I am a Gulf War vet and can speak from first hand experience that there has been made "much to do about nothing". Yes, there are stress related symptoms in many vets, and the expected number who have contracted real illness since the war but there is no "syndrome". Maybe we can let this fiasco die and help these vets get on with their lives. Believing a lie is the worst way to waste one's life.

Seattle. WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that stress caused the Gulf veterans' illnesses. Psychiatric diagnoses are diagnoses of exclusion. Chemicals may have caused the veterans' illnesses via a general mechanism known as "toxicant-induced loss of tolerance," a theory of disease we have published on in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The theory, which is backed by numerous clinical observations, states that a subset of more susceptible persons who are exposed to various chemicals or chemical mixtures may lose their prior, natural tolerance for common low-level chemical exposures, foods, and drugs that never were a problem for those individuals before and that don't affect most people. Subsequently, symptoms are triggered by such exposures. Classical toxicology does not explain this problem.

I am a university researcher who serves as a consultant to the VA, is a member of the VA's national advisory committee on the Gulf War veterans' illnesses, and has done research on low level organophosphate (related to nerve agent) health effects. I also testified before Congressman Shay's committee and the Presidential Advisory Committee at their invitation. The latter made no mention of the research on toxicant-induced loss of tolerance (the TILT Theory of Disease, as it has been dubbed) in its final report. The TILT theory of diseases poses a testable hypothesis that has not been explored adequately by the federal agencies concerned with the Gulf veterans' illnesses.

Because TILT involves a general mechanism for disease (like the germ theory), there may be diverse symptoms reported by those affected, just as the symptoms of infectious disease run the gamut. Dr. Nicholas Ashford of M.I.T. and I just published the second edition of our book, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes (which has received professional acclaim by JAMA and other mainstream medical and scientific, peer-reviewed journals. The book details this theory and it potential to explain the Gulf veterans' health problems. Unfortunately, the research recommendations we and other scientists have made for testing this theory have not been pursued by either the VA or DOD. Congressman Sanders is aware of our work and its relationship to the Gulf veterans problems as well as to the problems reported by civilians with exposure to new carpet emissions and other low level mixtures. If you are interested in further information, please contact me.

It is important to bear in mind that until just recently most physicians believed that ulcers were caused by stress. The physician who first proposed that ulcers were due to the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori was ridiculed, until he proved its causative role by infecting himself with this agent. We must not be too hasty to invoke stress as a cause for illnesses we do not fully understand before we have exhaustively ruled out other plausible (and testable) etiologies.

Claudia S. Miller, MD
San Antonio, TX

Dear FRONTLINE,

Good program. Raise new question. Why doesn't DOD list Stress as a "Line of duty" disability. Why doesn't acknowledge the Stress related medical illness as a Disability. Why doesn't the VA acknowledge the same. Until that happens Veteran will denied treatment and compensation for Stress and Stress-related illnesses. The DOD and VA have not put action behind the statements in this program. The senate arms committee and veterans affairs committee have not acted on this issue yet.

V.Hammack
Lynn, MA

Dear FRONTLINE, It is painfully obvious that the producers began this project with the preconceived notion that the syndrome doesn't exist. There also seemed to be a bias against the veterans.

Speaking as a veteran of the Agent Orange (Dioxin) struggle, I am experiencing deja vu. We were not taken seriously, then abandoned, too. The Gulf War Vets are being treated with the same disdain that my unfortunate brothers in arms who served in Southeast Asia. (Dioxin use was not confined to just South Vietnam).

The Veterans of my era were asking for the same answers as the Gulf War Vets are seeking now. They want to know everything the DoD is hiding that will provide a definitive answer about what is causing their ailments (and it is NOT STRESS). Next, the veterans want the government to provide effective treatment for the aching muscles, fatigue, insomnia, etc., that seems to afflict most of them. Finally, those who are disabled by this syndrome want the VA to recognize that it is a 100% disability and compensate them accordingly without the obstacles that Vietnam Era veterans were forced to endure.

The issue is treating many seriously ill veterans. It is not about protecting some bureaucrats' or generals' retirement benefits.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think your show missed the point. The point is that, this "all in your head," answer is the standard answer that I received from the VA. For me, I really did not have an opinion one way or another about this. Then after three years of the VA telling me there was nothing wrong with me I had back pain? I was seen by a civilian doctor and found out that instead of my head it was in my back. Bad enough that I had spinal fusion a year ago. My wife and I even tried to have a child, it ended in miscarriage. So what is my point? I actually had something wrong with me that was not in my head. And because of the miscarriage I am not all that sure about trying again. As for Doctor Joseph, his association with early aids research? If I remember right, did they get that right at first?

I would have liked to see your program show the facts not someone tell me what the facts are. Like calling cape fear hospital in fayetteville and ask them how many birth defect babies they had before the gulf war and then after? I think that is called research? See, a majority of families go to a civilian doctor using this thing called champus and that means the military families have the kids at civilian hospitals, not military hospitals. Which means if that data DOD uses is based on births at military hospitals? The data would at the very least be incomplete? Yes or no?

Bottom line I expected better from your show then what I saw.

Mike R
Sanford, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

It appears as if PBS/Frontline is the last remaining pocket of scientific objectivity left in the American media. Shame on Life Magazine, the NY Times, and all the other tabloids who are unwilling or unable to understand the statistical facts of (the imaginary) Gulf War Syndrome.

I wish Frontline did the daily news too. There would be no need to watch any other channel!

Tom Gilson
Salt Lake City

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was a perfect example of PBS putting their heads in the sand. The CDC (William Reeves, M.D.) said in September that GWS was CFS. Major General Blank said the same thing several years ago. If the right tests were done, each GWS patient would show abnormalities...i.e. SPECT scans, full lymphocyte panel, and a circulating blood volue test. It seems PBS is as determined to sweep this under the rug. Why such a non-scientific interview with Dr. Garth Nicolson? Why not even say what MI was? He has published in peer reviewed medical journals. Why was he driven from the MD Cancer Institute in Texas? Why not let outside experts that have asked test the serums of the inoculations given to GWS vets such as Dr. W. John Martin, formally of the NCI? Your show had less scientific knowledge but was certainly strong in the field of government psycho babble. Shame on you!

National CFIDS Foundation, Inc.
Needham, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched in great interest your Frontline report on the Gulf War Syndrome. As a Gulf War veteran myself I am greatly concerned with the apparent governmental cover-up on this issue. I served as a Marine in a forward area on the border between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and witnessed first-hand the many chemical detection alarms that sounded daily. It is my opinion that so many detection units sounding so many times, at the same time, was not a "glitch in the system" as many government reporting agencies would have you believe.

I was a first-hand witness to many unexploded and exposed chemical munitions that absolutely littered certain areas of the theater of operations. That a number, however small, of our troops became exposed at one time or another to chemicals cannot be refuted. Bureaucrats in Washington who have more than likely never even seen, much less set foot in, the areas in question cannot make a fair judgment on whether or not our troops were exposed to chemicals. Exposure by accident or by design is not the issue.

The issue is that some of our troops were exposed and are experiencing the aftermath of that exposure--no matter what all the documentation that tries to prove otherwise says. That many veterans cannot be suffering from mass delusions or hysteria.

I, myself, have suffered from extreme depression and memory loss. Due to the fact that depression seems to run in my family I have not tried to seek any reparations from the government. However, due to my memory problems I have given up my job as an Intelligence Analyst in the Marine Corps and have had to settle with the menial job of delivering appliances for a living. The depression that I have suffered through has, in my opinion, been the cause of my divorce and a recent suicide attempt. The Veteran's Administration, however, has been taking steps to recognize that there is a serious problem with us Gulf War veterans. I have had the opportunity to take part in counseling sessions that related directly to depression caused by the "Syndrome" and have made great progress. A lot of other Veterans of the Gulf War are not being taken as seriously and are seemingly being brushed aside by our own government. This is a genuine travesty and shouldn't be tolerated.

Thank you again for your candor and open mindedness in the reporting of this issue. I hope that it opens some eyes and brings to light the genuine problems that our great nation has in dealing with concerns of this nature and scope.

Gary A. Adelhardt, Jr.
ex-LCpl. USMC
Albuquerque, NM

 

 
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