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brian martin
interview
Martin is an ex-Marine paratrooper and has the highest disability rating, 100+, of any Gulf War veteran.  Martin suffers from numerous health problems and has captivated the media - appearing in dozens of television and radio programs in recent years.  He has also testified at many Congressional hearings on Gulf War illnesses.   Interview conducted October 1997.

Q: What was your health like before you went to the Gulf War?

A: I can't ever remember being sick. I never had a broken bone until I started in athletics..... never had an illness. I remember having colds and having the flu a couple of times, but never like pneumonia or any of the winter type illnesses that would keep you bed bound. I cannot ever remember being bed bound. ............

Q: Were you given any vaccines in preparation for the Gulf War?

A: Yeah. When we were deploying -- they had their little boxes of their hyperdermic needles and everything and we'd stand and get shots in each arm or our butt and you move on to the next station and shot some more or shot in your forearm, and then at the end of the line, there was a partition set up for your GG shots, your gamma goblin and several other series of shots.

 

Q: What were they?

A: I don't know. The only one that I know of that a medic had told me and that was yellow fever. I do remember that shot, but the rest of them --....we were in a hurry and so you didn't have a lot of time to ask and since that time I've come to learn that it wouldn't mattered if I asked anyway, we wouldn't have been told what the shots were. For instance, like anthrax and botulinum,we wouldn't been told what those were. We were not supposed to have knowledge of any shots or anything that they gave us in case we were captured over there, we wouldn't be able to tell me what were inoculated with. Also,I mean these shots were experimental, so of course they're not gonna tell us you know that we're using experimental drugs and even though it's against the Nuremberg Code we're still gonna do it anyway.

Q: How did you find this out?

A: Through my research over the past six years, I found out.

Q: Do you have any information about what kind of vaccines they were?

A: Well, I do know speaking to our old battalion commander, -- he has reassured me, and I believe that he would never lie to me.... He told me that our unit did not have anthrax and botulinum, and I believe him. Now he might have been told differently, I don't know. I don't believe people above him. The higher ups over Lt. Colonel, I don't believe..... I think the Pentagon and I think the VA and the National Institute of Health and I think a lot of these people -- oh yeah, the information we have now about the NIH is unbelievable and their collation with General Blank and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. We received those shots and then once we got overseas, three months later, we had to go through it again, and they told us that every three months we would have to get these shots for the duration of the time that we'd be there.

I feel like a walking medical experiment in a sense... I know my past, I know my health, and my physical being. They took what I considered a perfectly healthy, all American boy and turned him into a crippled old man. I have illnesses that old people have, I have aches and pains and cramps and headaches and I've never experienced that kind of physical pain before, that kind mental anguish before that I have now.

Q: When did you first learn how bad you were ...??

A: When I was 30, I was told you probably won't live to be 40. We don't know what has attacked your body except my very first consult sheet from the VA hospital they stamped on it that I was exposed to chemicals. They found things wrong with me that were very un-normal. I was the first Persian Gulf veteran that they had seen in this hospital and there was only about 13 of us in Michigan at the time that had gone to VA hospitals and I thought great, you know, I mean they don't know what's going on here.

I had gone to family doctors, I had gone to bone specialists from referrals from family doctors that they just could not figure what's wrong with me. I mean my knuckles were swollen, my feet looked like toxemia, I couldn't walk, I was crawling everywhere, I mean they had no clue what was going on with me, so they said go to a VA hospital. When I reported to the VA hospital, they looked at me and they said they were amazed I had an enlarged prostate, I had welts all over me, I had rashes, I had -- my -- it was the weirdest thing; while I would talk to the doctors blood would just start seeping out of my skin. There would be no wound, no scratch, no cut, but I -- but the doctor would hand me a Kleenex, I would have blood just running right out of the pores of my skin. They wrote on my medical records that I was exposed to chemicals and it was unclear which chemical...

About two weeks ago, my arm, I was sleepin', this is the second time it's happened to me in six years -- my arm just raises up and it's like I can't move it. You know, I'll put it down and it won't go down. My leg, I woke up two days ago ....and I went to get up and my right leg would not move. It was like my right leg was not even part of my body, I couldn't even feel it, it was just totally numb and just there. I couldn't even get up. About a half an hour it straightened out.

Q: The war ended. You came home. Could you describe when you started first to feel symptoms and what were your symptoms.

A. My mom would notice me -- 'cause we stayed here with my mom and dad when we came up here and my mom would get up for breakfast in the morning and I would be at the table holding my head, like 5, 6 o'clock in the morning. I just had my arms over the head and she would ask me what's wrong, and I'd just tell her, -- I can't stand this headache, my head's gonna explode..there's no words to describe that pain. It was very similar to like an ice pick running right through my eye or like a magician's box where they put the swords through all the different sides of the box, that's what my head was feeling like.

I would go to bathroom and I'd walk away and five minutes later I felt like some was still coming out. Diarrhea constantly. I was 30, 40 episodes of diarrhea a day. I mean I was always in the bathroom, running to the bathroom constantly. Everything I ate, everything I smelled, everything I did, I'd just vomiting up and I thought --I honestly believed that it was just I was having a hard time acclimating back to the States. I was used to that weather over there, that smell, that stink, that stench, the nastiness of the Arab countries and I get back over here and there's trees and there's oxygen and pollution, and cars everywhere, and you know maybe I'm just having a hard time with that. It will go away.

Well, in that 30 days time I started breaking out with these big red spots all over my body that would get like dry skin on 'em and if I -- the ones that are on my back, if my shirt snagged against them or something, it felt like somebody had touched me with a lighter or a flame or something, just burned, but I got back to Fort Bragg 30 days later and our battalion was coming home and everybody took a leave and I think it was about June -- the end of May or June, or early July -- I can't remember exactly when, but our battalion reformed and went through our command changes and everything and we started our PT back up, our physical training. Every time I would try to run I would violently vomit up.

Now I've been ridiculed by a man named Mike Fumento who wrote an article called Gulf Lore Syndrome. I describe my vomit as fluorescent looking, kind of like chem lights that you'd break and the shiny light. I've described it like that to congress and to the press and he's made fun of me saying you know that there's no such thing as fluorescent -- and I mean he's taking it too serious, so I don't care I'm gonna say it anyway. My vomit was a bright orangish-yellow and every time I would try to run -- and I would get delirious and I'd almost pass out and guys would actually have to -- you know, fellow friends and veterans would grab me and take me to the side of the road while I would vomit and spit up this stuff and an ambulance would have to come get me.

The medics, Scott Rafferty, I'll never forget this man because he took care of me almost every day that this happened to me. He would pick me up with the humvee ambulance and boom, boom right away, IV's in each arm, and I'd get rushed to Womack Community Hospital on Fort Bragg. This was a daily occurrence. It happened every time I tried to run. I would just violently vomit up this orangish-yellow stuff.........

Q: Okay, so you would come home and you decided that you were having some trouble, personal troubles with, you know, the higher ups and so you decided to leave the military. Tell me about -- so you and your wife left Fort Bragg, obviously. Where did you go and where were you living and from then how was your sickness affecting your life?

A: Well, at this point, the symptoms and -- I still hadn't had a clear defined diagnosis except for the stomach viral infection. We came up here, we moved back to Niles and we lived here with my parents for about ten months until -- I was remodeling their second house -[cough]- 'scuse me -- like wallpapering and cleaning up the yard and stuff. My parents own another house and it took me about ten months to get that ready to move back into the way we wanted it done.

Q: Wait, just one second. So you were doing this when you were sick--How was that?

A: At this time, I was only having headaches and nausea and diarrhea. I wasn't having the chemical sensitivity yet, I wasn't having the forgetfulness, the mood swings. I didn't experience any of this yet. Just four or five basic symptoms that hung in there with me and so we moved into the house and then what we wanted to do is open up our own little restaurant and in South Bend we opened up a little tiny food joint, I mean just a small one inside of a bar. A friend of mine owned a bar and she had a kitchen that was inactive and she said "would you like to have the business?", and sure, you know, it's free, we've never done anything like this before, but let's do it and surprisingly enough in four days we earned our first dollar profit, and we did well.

We were making between $200-$400 a night sometimes, and we did very well for just the two of us and I had gone out and bought a new pair of tennis shoes and -- 'cause I was on my feet a lot and about three weeks after I'd boughten those shoes my feet started hurting really, really bad, like needles, and I thought well, it's just the shoes. You know, maybe it's just a cheap pair of shoes or something, I'll go out and buy a newer pair. I went and bought two new pairs of shoes and my feet only got worse, and one morning I woke up and this knuckle right here and -- let's see, it was -- I'm trying to remember, it was my right hand, it was this knuckle right here. These were outsized, but this one right here swelled up like a golf ball. I mean I just woke up one morning and my hand was like this and this knuckle was like that, and I -- I mean I'm freakin' now, I'm thinking what the hell is wrong with my hand here.

So I called my family doctor, right away he got me in, he sent me for x-rays, we came back and he couldn't figure out. He said "I see nothing in these x-rays that should be making your knuckle do this." So he sent me to a man who was a bone specialist here in South Bend and I went to him, and this man was amazed. I mean he just kept looking at my knuckle. He's like "oh, my God", you know, "I don't see anything like this unless it's a break usually." So he again sent me out for more x-rays, different views, different machines or something, I don't know what he did differently, but it was -- his film was different than what the other doctor had, and again, he could not see anything in the x-rays that would cause this.

So he gave me five cortisone shots in one knuckle and he said come back in about three weeks and we'll check the swelling. I didn't even make it to three weeks. These other two knuckles here swelled up just like it and then my feet --

My feet had swelled like elephantitis, black, blue and purple. I couldn't walk on 'em. If I touched my feet to the floor just getting out of bed just to touch my feet on the floor, it felt like I was standing in hot fire. So I would have to crawl from room to room. I'd have to crawl everywhere and obviously the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me, they were definitely not going to do anymore cortisone because they thought that helped spread it.

So what they did is the suggested I go a VA hospital, and that's when I went to the VA, but now at this point I'm scared. You know, now for the first time in this -- dealing with these symptoms and these illnesses I am scared to death. My feet, I couldn't put shoes on because I didn't have any to fit, my feet were so swollen. I had -- Kim and I had just had a son in May of '92, so he was just a couple of months old. I couldn't work our grill anymore, our restaurant, and she couldn't do it alone. I mean the demand for our food was so high there was no way she could have done it alone and we really, at that point, didn't want to hire somebody because we were having to use this money for medical care and we eventually had to close down the grill and Kim, my wife at the time, she got a job at an RV industry place converting vans and I stayed home with the kids. Now our daughter at this point was 2 years old and our son was just a couple of months old and I refused -- I refused to let people help me in a sense. I guess airborne pride or male ego, I don't know, but I would literally lay in bed all day long until my son needed me or my daughter and I would crawl out of bed, and I would crawl to his crib, with my one good hand, 'cause my right hand was pretty much worthless and it was bent over like this, I would lift myself up to his crib and I'd snatch him like a monkey. I mean I would grab him and I'd hold him and I'd crawl to the refrigerator and I would get up and I'd open the refrigerator and I'd get his formula out and I'd get his formula and I'd crawl over or scoot over to the microwave and -- I mean that's how I took care of my son.

Until there was days that I just couldn't wake up. I mean I would just -- I'd hear them crying or my parents would be calling and I would wake up and I would go in and check on him, but I would -- I'd fall asleep. I mean I'm holding my son on the couch feeding him and I'd fall asleep. I was never so ill that I couldn't take care of them, I was just ill enough that I wasn't comfortable with the way I was taking care of them. My dad would come over sometimes and actually pick me up out of bed and carry me, like when I was child, to the couch and lay me down, or my aunt and my dad would come over and watch the kids while I was allowed to sleep all day.

I didn't know what was going on. I mean I didn't want to be awake, I didn't want to move. If I just moved a shoulder or if I reached to scratch something, it was just so much pain. My knee swelled up, my feet were swollen still, but then what happened to my feet is I started getting areas in my feet that were swollen like one ankle joint would swell and then I would get like a -- what looked like a vein running down my foot would swell, but it wasn't a vein, it was just an area that would swell up real bad.

My vision -- it was getting to where I couldn't focus on things. I would see things and I would think that they were there -- not like I was having a mirage or anything, but like I'd swear I saw my keys laying there, but they wasn't laying there, or I would look at my keys and not see them sitting there. I don't know what it was, if it was an attention problem or what, but I was -- I just didn't trust my own eyesight anymore and then driving -- I -- a friend of mine lived about six miles away and I've driven to this man's house a thousand times or more. I got totally lost coming home from his lost.

I love to drive....but I know it was getting bad. My body was still on a fast track so I would drive 70, 80 miles an hour and it feel 40 or 50 miles an hour to me at the time. I didn't realize I was going that fast because it seemed slower to me. Sometimes now when I walk, even though my feet hurt real bad, I walk faster than people that I walk with actually because it doesn't feel like it's that fast to me. It feels much slower.

I'd get lost just driving from my house to here a couple miles away I would get lost. I mean I would totally just have to ask Kim. I don't even remember the street I'm on, or I don't remember where I'm going I'd be on a road and I'd totally forget where I was going. .....it was to the point where I couldn't drive alone. People were scared to ride with me because I was driving so fast. I've never given up driving, but I've slowed it way down. I'm more particular and careful-- it was incidents like that that got me start realizing it's getting worse, it's getting worse.

Then I started having mood swings. Violent mood swings. For instance, I remember one incident I was trying to use a salt shaker and I can't remember if it was humid or if the salt shaker got wet or whatever, but the salt clumped up in it and just that little -- 'cause I couldn't get salt on my food I threw it. I mean just, boom, I threw it. I have hit walls. These -- it's a rage that comes upon me real quick and then is gone just as fast and I don't even remember it, I don't remember what made me angry, I don't remember, you know, what actions I took. Never physically violent. I mean I've never beaten anybody, I've never beaten my wife, I spanked my son one time. I do remember spanking my son one time under one of these fits and as I snapped out of it, I immediately called Dr. Murphy in Washington, DC and told her something is wrong. You know, I am realizing I cannot control this anymore and she immediately put me in a hospital in Michigan and ran a few tests, but the Michigan hospital screwed up and they discharged me before I everything was done -- but, I mean that's how I progressively watched this. When I felt each symptom got to a point where I couldn't control it anymore, I was on the phone with Dr. Murphy or some hospital or some doctor saying, you know, I'm realizing this now, you guys gotta do something about it.

Q: Were you having anymore symptoms?

A: Kim was having a problem with burning semen and a lot of gynecological problems, yeast infections. Wherever my semen would land on her skin it would leave a rash. I mean like if -- I don't want to seem too graphic, but we did not want to have another child, okay. Birth control pills were not very healthy for Kim, we did the condom thing and all that and that was a bad experience, you know, at that time and we didn't know that there was burning semen problem. Kim just always had this burning after we would consummate our marriage and there was times that, you know, you would draw and ejaculate and if it landed like in an S shape or something, that's a red mark she would have on her skin. It would be -- it was really wild. Now I've heard -- I've heard Dale Cooper from Soldier of Fortune write it -- he explained it like -- he said we said it was like napalm, we've never said it was napalm. Napalm was a whole different thing compared to semen so I don't even know why he made that comparison 'cause we never did, but it was the strangest thing. I mean wherever it landed on her stomach or her thigh, or if it landed on her arm or hand or something, it left a red patch there and she was constantly having problems and then she was diagnosed with having tumors and cysts on her uterus which is -- if you want we can get into that whole thing at Walter Reed, but that was -- that was a prominent symptom, the forgetfulness, the mood swings, the eyes, I had no strength, I couldn't open up a mayonnaise jar or a pop with those plastic caps that you have to snap that little ring around it. I couldn't open those. I would either have to put it in the crook of my arm and open it that way or have somebody do it for me. When I drive, if I try to shift gears, it felt like somebody was running a needle right through the palm of my hand so I had to go to an automatic car after that. You know, I mean I've done everything that I could possibly do to adjust to this because it has never adjusted to me. So I've had to adapt and overcome it -- you know with it other than it adapting to me.

Q: Let's talk some more about your wife's symptoms more.... What was going on with her?

A: Well, she had started to have all these female problems, the infections, the burning, the irregular menstrual cycles. Sometimes her menstrual cycles was like tar. It would be a real dark, muddy, blood looking color like a -- I mean just a purple. I mean not a blood looking color, it didn't look like blood, it looked like a thin tar. It was blackish color. It was terrible when she would have these things and her menstrual cycles were so irregular sometimes she'd be on her period for maybe a day or two and two or three days later she'd start up another one for maybe two weeks, and it was like his throughout the year, all the time, and she started getting real bad lumps in her breast. These lumps would grow. Not just a small lump that would stay small, they would grow and then they would shrink again and sometimes they would grow so big that she would wear three different bra sizes. You could actually watch her breasts get bigger from these lumps and then when they'd shrink her breasts would get smaller. Kim's a very flat-chested woman, she didn't have breasts to begin with, but when these lumps would -- I mean it looked like she had breasts when these lumps got bigger and -- you know, that we watched very closely. Family doctor again, you know, everything he could do, could not figure out. He even wrote up a consult sheet to the Pentagon saying that he believes that her illnesses were do to a connection with me somehow.

Skin would peel in between her fingers. It was really weird. It wasn't like a rash as much as it was -- she would get like these little white pimple looking bumps in between her fingers and if she scratched 'em, they would turn into like -- I don't know what to call it, but it was like her skin was just peeling away in between of her -- in between her fingers, and it was something that she -- if she left alone, I mean, she wouldn't peel 'em, and it didn't go down into her hand or onto her arm anything, it was just always right in between her fingers, and she -- on the palm of her hands, she would get these red dots all over her and on her thighs, her butt, her back, and her breasts, the same as me, we would get the same rashes. The same red dots, the same rashes and probably the most prominent symptom that she had was she had developed a soft spot in the back of her skull that was about this big around when she first noticed it, and our family doctor took x-rays of it and you know this is a phenomenon he thought -- you know why is the skull softening and thinning here. Well, over a short one-year period, two more spots had appeared on the sides of her head that was also caving in and very thin.

That's when Ross Perot got involved with this and Ross Perot started sending her to neurologists, and bone specialists, and head doctors, and all kinds of things -- about $15,000 worth of x-rays and medical work-ups. They had discovered that bone in her skull was thinning almost to like paper in these areas. Now the one in the back of her head over a two-year period had gotten to where you could place your whole hand right into the dip of her skull. It was kinda like -- you know them cubes that are not perfect, they've got like dips and shapes and you can roll 'em and they'll land on the flat spot and stay there? That's what her head was like. Over a period of four years, she received five total spots and there was the beginning of two more smaller ones that we thought, but you know, we haven't been able to check on those.

Q: One other thing about your own symptoms--Susan mentioned you had a problem with mosquitoes?

A: This is funny. Mosquitoes die on me. The mosquitoes that bite me, die, and I've had so many people watch this -- I've invited people over to watch it. You know, come on over here and we'll see if these mosquitoes bites me, and I will actually sit out without a shirt on, try to get these mosquitoes to bite me, and if they'd bite me, they'd die. Or if they even land on me enough to taste me, or whatever, they'll hurry up and fly away, but if they are on me long enough to suck blood, they die right on the spot.

........

Q: Brian, tell me, are you compensated?

A: It was kind of amazing... August of '94 my service officer who lives right across the street from right now called me on the phone kinda laughing, and I said, well, you know, "what's so funny?" and he said "I've got your rating decision here", he says "but I can't officially tell you what it is until you get your letter from the VA", and I said "well, give me a hint" you know I mean 'cause I had already had 20% given to me in '93, and -- for tinnitus in my ear and lower back pain, I had 20%, and he said "I can't tell you", he says, "but you'll be astounded", he says "I've never seen a rating this high in my life, in 20 some years of being a service officer, I've never seen a rating this high." So I got my letter, and I'm already adjudicated by social security. Social security had already given me total disability about seven months or four months, something like that before this, and in August of -- no, I take that back. In August of '94, is when I got social security. On my birthday, October 15, 1994, I got a letter from the VA saying that I had Reiter's syndrome at 100%, chronic fatigue syndrome at 50%, the inflammatory bowel disease 30%, which is 180, then I had the 20% still. So the numbers added up to 200, but they don't call it 200, they call it 100% plus special monthly compensation, and I said well what's -- you know, "wow this is neat, you know, they finally agree that I'm totally disabled, but what does this mean?" He said this rating is so high that once they give you permanent total your kids will be able to go to college for free, you'll get -- they'll have free medical, free dental, free everything. I mean the VA pays for everything from now on

Q: You're involved with Congress, you're involved with the media, they listen to you. What's that like for you?

A: Sometimes it's embarrassing because I'm still Brian Martin, -- I didn't mean for any of this to happen, actually. I was sick, I was told I was gonna die before a certain amount of time. They had actually estimated my life and I know too many Vietnam veterans that have died and their family's got nothing. I know too many Vietnam veterans that are sick and they got nothing. Too many Korean veterans that their family's have nothing. I wasn't gonna allow that to happen. Somebody somewhere was gonna admit something happened to me somewhere at some time no matter what. If I drew my last breath trying to prove that something happened to me, I was gonna do that, and Senator Reigle, who kinda threw me into the national spotlight by appearing with him -- I was kinda like his poster boy, you know. Here's my constituent, he's sick, I've done this for him, I've helped him, but he's never asked anything in return, he's never said vote for me or stand by me in this and everything. He's never asked for anything. Same thing with Congressman Upton. I mean this man from day one, from the first phone call I made to his office, he believed me and he helped me and he still is staying with me every time I'm in DC.

I really enjoy like when I get to do the shows. I don't get paid to do television shows, but my trips are paid, and I would have never seen Los Angeles or New York, I don't think if it wasn't for this issue. I've met a lot of wonderful people. I've met so many good veterans and so many hard working spouses that love their husbands, that are fighting -- you know, spending every dime that they have fighting this issue to prove what's happened to their husbands.

My whole mind is changed about government. I used to say "our government is covering this up." It's not the government. If I said government, I would include people like John Rockerfeller, Joe Kennedy, Fred Upton, Chris Shays, Bernard Sanders, Daniel O'Cocha, I mean I would be including that if I sum that up as the government covering up. I've had to learn how to specifically point fingers at the government entities that are covering it up, like the Defense Intelligence Agency, Dennis Rosen in particular. The man I almost got into a fight with in the hallway at the NIH because he said that the only way we were exposed to chemicals is if "little Iraqis jumped out of little fox holes and sprayed us in our little faces with little aerosol cans", and you know, what kind of mentality is that for a DIA agent to come to me and say this publically at the NIH?

................

Q: Do you think this is a coverup, on a big scale?

A: Oh, a much larger scale. It's not like maybe the Watergate thing or the Whitewater whatever with Nixon and the Whitewater things down in Arkansas there. I don't think it's a cover up like that. I think what it is is it's a bunch of mistakes that were made, our leaders were not prepared for us to go into battle properly. I think that there's too many chiefs and not enough indians and now they're scrambling to figure out how to cover their butts.

I don't think anybody said "we're gonna purposely make these people sick." I think when they gave us PB pills they wanted it to work. I think they really thought in their little minds that this is gonna work, but then again..I look at it and say if you're gonna experiment on people, what's the largest control group you can do it with? The military. You have men, women, black, white, Asian, Mexican -- I mean you've got all walks of life from different ages, different races, different areas of the United States, and so you give 250,000 of these soldiers PB pills and you give this 250,000 a different kind of shot.

You know -- when they say we didn't have enough batches for everybody, you didn't want enough batches for everybody. If you knew we were going to war, you thought this was gonna work, you should have had enough batches for everybody. Why did the Pentagon force a waiver on the FDA? To give us experimental vaccinations and pills. To experiment on us. So you know that part of it is a cover up, but I don't think anybody said "let's give 'em squalene and make 'em sick." I think they said "let's see what squalene can do", you know and find out what the end results will be and I think that's where they should be held accountable.

I definitely will not quit this crusade until someone is sitting in prison, whether it's George Bush, whether it's Colin Powell, Schwarzkoff, Dr. Joseph I want to see in prison. Dr. Stephen Joseph who used to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. I want to see that man rot in prison as long as we are sick because he's lied, I want to see John Deutch when he was Secretary of the CIA, he got up there and told Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes these troops were not exposed to any widespread use of chemicals, widespread exposures, but when Ed Bradley says "any exposure, widespread, little spread, any spread, were they exposed?" he refused to answer it. To my knowledge. We have documents up the butt from GulfLink and everywhere else with his name all over it that he knew about chemical exposures all -- I mean we have the Khamisiyah documents, there's about 800 and some pages to Khamisiyah going as high as the White House.

You know the only person that's gonna escape me is Les Aspin and that's 'cause he died. That's the only person, and 'cause I'm gonna go after 'em all. I definitely want to see 'em in jail. Schwarzkoff, Powell, Bush, Chaney, James Baker, all of them has been found guilty of the Tribunal War Crimes by the UN for atrocities on the Iraqi people and the American people....

Q: What symptoms are related to Gulf War Syndrome?

A: A bunch -- mood swings, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, blurred vision -- burning urination, diarrhea, short term memory loss -- I'm trying to remember them all -- the rashes, fungus on the toenails -- like, my big toe is being eaten away by this old fungus thing. Gosh, there's just so many.

Q: What about cancer?

A: I think there's three strong types of cancers. It's melanoma, lymphoma, and testicular is one of the other cancers that is killing a lot of the Persian Gulf vets... There's about 57, 50- -- I think there's 57 to 60 symptoms that they -- there used to be just 50 symptoms which like in '93 I matched 47 of 50 symptoms, but now they've raised it up more because there's so much abnormality going on with us -- it's like a Persian Gulf veteran can wake up one day and feel good enough, like me.

I was in a wheelchair for years and -- for a couple of years anyway -- I still use a cane for long -- long distance walking or like in the mall or stores or something. I have to use my cane, I'm a high fall risk and with bad feet I walk with a wide gait. Around the house here from -- you know I can use walls or doorways to get through, I don't have a problem with that, but I know like Colonel Smith, for instance, a good friend of mine, I have his permission to talk about him any time I want -- he has days he'll call me, he's chipper, he's up, he's fed the dogs and you know he's ready to start the day, but because we feel good some days we overdo it so the next day --

Like tomorrow I probably won't do anything. I'll probably just sit, relax, watch TV or something like that because I'm doing this today and I've got some things I have to do yet -- later tonight, but when we feel good and you're up and everything, you overdo it because you want to be that old human being that you were again. Every time I go to Washington, like the five days I spent out there a couple of weeks ago, that just killed me. For like a week, I just laid around, my feet were swollen, I was hurting.

Q: So why do you think that a lot of Gulf War veterans with Gulf War Syndrome -- some are worse than others? Why do some have different symptoms than others?

A: Well, medically speaking I don't know. I mean I'm not a scientist or a doctor. My opinion of what I've learned and what I've talked to doctors about and stuff is everybody's immune systems are different, everybody's amount of exposures were different. Some people took pills, some didn't. Some got shots, some didn't. Some was at Khamasiyah and many weren't. You know I think it depends on your personal structure...

Q: What is your response to the Presidential Advisory Committee's conclusion that the unexplained symptoms of Gulf War veterans are most likely due to stress?

A: What I respond to the Presidential Advisory Committee's conclusion, both in the interim report and the final addition, of most of symptoms being caused by stress basically, phooey on them. You don't have five members of your own committee come out behind the chairman's back and say they don't agree with that that they believe that there's more to it than just stress. I'm much more enlightened by the final conclusion than the interim report since they are suggesting that the investigation be taken away from the Pentagon and put into somebody else's hands. That's quite exciting. I'd like to see the Pentagon stripped of all doings with this issue.

If the Presidential Advisory Committee wants to blame some of this on stress, I think they have to right to because they've seen a lot of stress. In two years, they have seen nothing but stressful veterans getting up there and testifying, but I come back to the Presidential Advisory Committee -- Ed Berris testified about his son dying, Carolyn Berris testified about her husband dying. Not one person on that committee asked questions. If I could have got up there, I would told 'em shame on all of you. You know, you don't have a man come up here in tears testifying that his son has just died in December of cancer and you don't have one question for him? You don't have a young beautiful woman, this -- I mean she was gorgeous -- get up there and testify about her young husband dying in December and not ask a question. You know, if they want to say it's stress, we can say that they're part of that stress.

We're tired of misrepresentation of the truth and the PAC, the members of the PAC that -- like Dr. Lashoff -- I asked Dr. Lashoff in Detroit, or in Chicago when I testified in July of last year -- I said "you're a doctor, why don't you examine a few of us?" She says "well, I can't do that." "Why not?" Don't even give a conclusion if you don't know all the answers.

Don't tell us that it's stress, if you can't tell us that it's something else. There's no doubt in my mind that stress can cause some problems. I'm dealing with it right now. When I was in my marriage I think that stress made some of my symptoms worse, like maybe my diarrhea, my vomiting, my hives and my rashes and stuff. I think stress caused that worse. I don't think it's what gave it to me, but I think it made it worse because now that I'm away from her and I have less stress the rashes aren't re-occurring as much, my vomiting and diarrhea has subsided quite a bit. So I can believe and I will give 'em that some stress can make things worse, but it's not the cause of our illnesses. How does stress cause brain damage with scarring? How does it cause chemical sensitivity? I believe, if I'm right, one of the most stressful jobs in this country is air traffic controllers. How come air traffic controllers don't have the same illnesses we do? How come policemen who face battle every day throughout this whole country, why aren't they complaining that they have chronic fatigue syndrome, brain damage, colon damage, stomach damage, chemical sensitivity, cancer, fungus on their feet, rashes? You don't hear that. That's stress. Those are stressful jobs. ....

Q: Tell me what you did to get other people to understand that something in the Gulf was making you and others sick.

A: Well, basically just by the phone, by television and the internet. I created a web page and tried to put as much information on there as I possibly could. I have tried to network with many other veterans, I've tried to -- you know through national media exposure, that was one of the best. How we got it to England was I've done two documentaries -- two or three documentaries over there and I've done quite a few up in Canada and that's what we were actually reaching out for and I've got a message on my answering machine now from some Japanese guy. He wants to do an interview for Japan television -- but that's basically because we've offered our help to Japan. We said if you give us the information of why only 13 died and 5,000 were sick, we'll let you know what we know about saran and everything, but just networking, phone calls, hours and hours and hours of on the phone and interviews.

Q: How much time do you spend everyday, or per week?

A: Well, it used to be hours. I mean just from the time I woke up until the time I'd go to bed at night I was on the computer, but going through what I'm going through now which was held against me -- they said I was too much hours on the computer and not enough with the children -- I've broke it down to where about Monday, Wednesday and Friday I work on the issue all day. Days that I don't have the kids, I'm on it all day, all night. I'm on my web page and I'm a co-commander of a chat room from about midnight to 4:30 in the morning I'm on that and then during the days when I do everything else. I've been doing a lot of public appearances lately here locally, like an Honorary Grand Marshall of a parade on July 4th, and a I was a guest speaker at an air show in Alcart, and I've been trying to do a lot of things like that 'cause I've spread myself out so far nationally that I've kind of neglected some of the local things that I was supposed to be doing around here.

Q: Tell me, how did you get the congressmen to listen to you? Congressmen and senators.

A: Well, the first phone call I made to Fred Upton -- it wasn't a problem. I mean he said you're my constituent, he actually did what a congressman is supposed to do. We put him in office to help us, I had a concern, and boom, he helped and he still is helping today. Same thing with Senator Reigle. Once I had their attention, I think their friends that sit on you know in chairs and committees and in congress, I think they probably said well, if they believe, then we must believe him too. One thing that helped me was '93 testifying in both the House and the Senate that day. Like Joe Kennedy, when I went to meet him a couple of weeks ago, I mean he walked in, he's like "Brian" you know, "how ya doin'." Liza Mianus, the woman that I'm working with over there, has like her investigator -- she's kinda like my liaison, I'm a liaison for the vets for him. She went over to Lane Evans just to see -- 'cause she gets a lot of paranoid theory in there -- so she went over to Lane Evans on the committee and says "hey, I got this guy named Brian Martin I just met with" and they're like "oh, yeah" you know "he's testified to us before" and Lane Evans goes "how's he doing" because I meet with a lot of Lane Evans's staffers around here since he's from Chicago.

Q: Congress members and the senators -- do they rely on you a lot for information?

A: They rely on all of us. I mean if there's something that I don't know, I'll find it out. You know. Somebody out there that I work with or network with.

Q: Do you feel a bit used?

A: No, not at all. I believe this is the way the American system should work. Constituents have a concern, they call their congressman, their congressman helps them, and if it's a long going concern, then the congressman sticks with 'em. Like Congressman Shays one time -- it was right after they admitted to Khamasiyah, I was on the Today Show, and I had just flown in from New York and the phone was ringing. And it was Congressman Shays. He says "Brian can you be here in four hours to testify?", and I told him "I'd love to sir, but you know there's just absolutely no way. I just got in from New York, I'm tired, there's no way I could make it to DC and testify for what you want to put me through", and he says "well, hold on, I'm gonna call you in a half an hour---

And I got a call back and on the speaker phone, he goes "the committee is in here right now Brian", he goes "everybody say hi to Brian" and they're like "hi, hi" and all that and I'm trying to remember okay, "hi, Congressman Tolins, hi Congressman Sanders." I'm trying to remember who's on the committee, who's on the committee -- and what they did is they asked me about 45 minutes of questions over the phone and I answered them because Steven Joseph was testifying to them and I guess -- now I didn't see it on C-SPAN 'cause I went to bed immediately after they interviewed me over the phone, but Dr. Murphy called me the next day and said that -- she said that when Joseph was talking that if Shays didn't mention my name one time, he mentioned it 200 times. He kept saying "well, I just hung up with Brian Martin", and this and this and this, and that makes me feel good because I've worked very hard for that respect.

I've made it a personal standard of mine never to say anything to the press or to Congress or to anybody that I don't have a document to prove. I've seen too many Gulf War groups and Gulf War advocates get thrown to the wayside because they've exaggerated numbers or they've -- you know they just didn't have the files to prove what they were saying and I won't do that and I think that's why my reputation is so good in Washington is because they know when they call on me I'll work hard for 'em, I'll put together the proof and the evidence that they need for what I'm saying, and I'm always willing to speak in front of them.

Q: Tell me what media spots you've done-- any radio or media spots, newspapers?

A: Yeah, mainstream. Phil Donahue, Montel Williams, 60 Minutes twice, Tom Snyder twice, Fox's Front Page, Fox's In the Morning, or whatever, the Today Show, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, America This Morning or whatever that's called, oh boy. I'm trying to remember them all. 34 national television appearances I've done. This show right here will be 35, 'cause PBS is national, right? Yeah, this will be 35 for me. Radio, you name it, I've done it. I mean a lot here in Michigan. A lot out of California. I do a lot out of California. Some out of Texas. Oh, geez, I've got a media list. I've been on C-SPAN a couple of dozen times I think, I don't know. C-SPAN I -- when I did the Today Show, I met Steve Scully who is -- at that time, he was a spokesman for SIDS, him and his wife had lost two kids by SIDS, and I was giving him my card and he goes "let me give you mine", and he's the political editor for C-SPAN. So now whenever there's a hearing I go "Steve", he goes "All right, I'll have a crew there."

So I truly believe that I have a really big mouth and I have a lot of cahonies to kick in doors and I think God figured out how to use both of them. I'm not a highly religious person, but I see things unfold in front of me that only God could be responsible for. Like me doing the Today Show and sitting in the Green Room meeting the political editor of C-SPAN. You know, that's a perfect resource for me. I mean, God, now we've got C-SPAN at every hearing that we have. You know I think these things happen for a reason

Q: What is like being the Khamasiyah kid?

A: The Khamisiyah kid is actually a name that was given to me by the media. The only part of my life that has actually changed is I have been totally vindicated. The people that have talked about me and said you're a fake, or you're a liar, or you know you weren't exposed to anything, or how could you be this sick if -- you know six months over there or whatever. Now they know. Just a quick side bar, my own grandmother has disowned me. My mother's mom has disowned me. She has seen me at my worst, she has seen me crawl across the floor, she has seen blood come out of my ears and my nose and she has been there when I was at my sickest. My mom's sister, my aunt, my mom's uncle which is also my uncle, and my mom's mom which is my grandmother have all disowned me in this family and made it a personal goal to tell everybody in the family that I'm still faking and that I'm sick and there's no way that I have these problems and there's no way all these Persian Gulf veterans are sick because he was a World War II veteran and, you know, of course there's a jealousy issue with that.

But when they admitted to that tape and they admitted to Khamisiyah and they admitted to my unit being exposed and then they admitted to 98,900 and some other people being exposed, it was probably a joyous day. It wasn't a victory day because we're still sick and it's sad to know that parts of the different entities of my government would lie to me and so many other people that did what was asked of us to do, but it's changed me because I have more confidence about when I speak to congress or when I speak to the media I think that they look at me a lot different and say, you know, this guy was right and it makes me feel good because I've -- I'm not a college graduate, I'm not a genius, I'm not -- I haven't invented something that's changing the world or anything like that, all I had was a stupid little video camera at the right time at the wrong place and a stupid little video tape that happened to show something bad and you know I don't want it to change me. I mean I don't want to -- I don't want to go down as history as the Khamisiyah kid, I'd rather go down in history as being a loving father and a good friend to everybody that I've met, but it's definitely given me a new respect out there, I mean between the vets and congress and media, they definitely found a new respect for what I've done.

Q: You must know that there are critics out there. Regarding stress, for example, it's well established that post war neuroses are common and that complaints such as rashes, headaches, fatigue, blurry vision happen to a majority of returning soldiers throughout history. What do you say to this?

A: I would look at it as what their stresses were. If the VA diagnoses somebody with PTSD, it's on them to tell the vet and their service officer what the stressor was that caused the PTSD. Too many times PTSD is being diagnosed and there is no stressors as given as the cause. I believe that like in my situation where the most stressful thing that happened to me -- I mean I lost my best friend over there, but anybody that knew that they were going to war knew that you're probably gonna die of lose a friend or somebody. You know, I was mentally prepared for that, but it still hurt. It hurt like hell to lose my best friend, but I think that me not getting mail or most of the members of my unit not getting mail in a timely fashion didn't cause brain damage. I think if some of these guys were -- that were in like the APCs, the armor personnel carriers that were hit with friendly fire, I think some of the M1s that were hit with friendly fire, I think their stress levels are very high and I think some of their problems could be caused by that anxiety and that stress of knowing you know they were that close to death, they probably did lose somebody in their crew that they trained with, that they probably drank with, hung with on weekends, played cards with, whatever. Yeah, that can cause a lot of stress, but when you talk about like the stress causing symptoms, what about the illnesses?

Can stress cause inflammatory bowel disease? Or heart attacks? Can it cause a crystallizing of the valves, can it cause high platelets around the blood cells around the heart? Can stress cause brain damage? Can stress cause testicular cancer? I mean when they say stress, specifically talk about what stress can cause and weed it out from the illnesses and the real symptoms. Migraine headaches, yes, can be caused by stress. My headaches are caused from a scar on my temporal lobe. So, yeah, you know you're gonna have both either way, and I agree there's stress. I said this earlier. But you have to look at the individual, you can't just listen to two years like the PAC did -- listen to two years of testimony and then clump us all together. They didn't hear from 700,000 people. They need to individually try to find out what stressors were.

Q: Here's a tough question for you. Some people are skeptical of your health-- good-looking appearance, alert manner, and the fact that you're out there as a spokesman for lots of vets. You're traveling, you're spreading the word, and doing all this while you're suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. You've got 100% disability. How can you do all of this and still be disabled?

A: Well, because I'm disabled, I have to be bed bound? I mean I have to be in a wheelchair? I have to be in the hospital? How do MS patients get around? How do AIDS people get around? I mean they're dying, you know, they're dying at a rapid pace, they know they're dying, but they get around. Ryan White. Don't you think he was a strong little boy?

Like I said earlier, I have been very fortunate. I've made the contacts, I've opened the doors and until either they resolve the issue -- not the veterans, the government--resolves the issue and makes everybody fess up and they do what's right, I'll be in this issue for everybody. I have now the money. I mean the compensation that they're paying me gives me the money to do this. It would be very easy for me to turn my back on this issue and say "well, I've got my money, now I'm just gonna sit and live a non-stressful life." I don't have to be on the phone paying $2,800 phone bills a month. I don't have to be on the internet. This is my third computer in three years. I don't have to do any of this. I do it for them. I do it for the vets. I do it for their wives' and for their children.

I'm in a lot of pain when I'm done with it. I take my time, I work this issue when I'm able to work it. When I'm walking, if I know I've had enough, I sit down. You know, I'm not stupid, I don't push myself to where it's gonna kill me. The TV shows that I do. I'm taken care of. When I get to a hotel I like -- I make sure there is fresh fruit there, I make sure there is plenty of fluids for me to drink, I make sure that I'm on a chemical free floor.

You know, I have people ask me about smoking. How do you smoke? Dr. Claudia Miller has asked me "how do you smoke?" Dr. Murphy suggested I don't -- or that I don't quit smoking because, like if you had perfume on and I smelled it, I light up a cigarette, I can't smell it no more. So it doesn't effect me. Cigarettes are effecting me I think, I mean they told me last October I have a lung disease, but they said it's not due -- I've got a minor -- in the minor and major parts of my lungs, but it's not due to smoking. They don't know what it's due to, but I have a lung disease. Cigarettes aren't helping it, but it keeps me -- if we're driving down the road and a bus is in front of me and the exhaust is real bad, I roll up the windows and light up a cigarette. I can't smell it no more. Now I'm not throwing up, I'm not gagging, I'm not heaving, I'm not running my car into a telephone pole because I get dizzy all of a sudden. I'm very aware of what's around me, I'm very careful, I'm very cautious, flight arrangements, stewardesses and -- I mean I make sure all of that is taken care of. I do get around very well for the disability that they have me at, but, like I said, squeaky wheel syndrome. How much of that do you think was added on, you know? I know I have Reiter's syndrome because I've had civilian doctors tell me.

Q: Are you concerned -- because of your illness, are you concerned about giving blood?

A: Yeah. I will never give blood. I mean I don't care if there is a national crisis for blood, there's no way. I don't know what little funny animals are swimming around in my blood and I don't think the VA knows and I don't think the Pentagon knows and if they do know, they're not admitting it so why would I want to go and give blood and possibly make somebody sick? I called my local Red Cross here and I asked 'em, I said "do you have a screening process, a questionnaire, do you ask 'are you a Persian Gulf veteran' or 'have you been exposed to anything'", she said "no, all we do is an AIDS test on the blood." I don't agree with that. You know, there's more illnesses out there, there's leukemia, there's -- I mean there's all kinds of illnesses that blood carries and why they're just worried about AIDS I don't understand. We've written letters to Elizabeth Dole that went unanswered. We have gone as far as to even call meat markets and slaughter houses and say -- you know, it's kinda morbid, but there are people that believe in bestiality and what if somebody with Gulf War Syndrome or AIDS or something like that had sex with a cow or a goat . You know, we've actually asked the questions to cover all grounds kinda, if someone had a sex with a cow that had Gulf War syndrome could it get in the meat? We couldn't get answers from that. So, you know, we're not getting answers from the Red Cross, we're not getting answers about a lot of our concerns and these seem like silly little concerns, but there our concerns....we really care about the American people not being afflicted with this.

 

 
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