Is an Armament Sickening U.S. Soldiers?

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Long article, only first page posted.

It's def possible. One of those things that studies aren't effective at predicting.

http://articles.news.aol.com/news/_a/is-an-armament-sickening-us-soldiers/20060812123809990008?ncid=NWS00010000000001

NEW YORK (Aug. 12) - It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills - morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. Valium for his nerves.

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.

There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military's new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.

In the sprawling bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has many caretakers. An internist, a neurologist, a pain-management specialist, a psychologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a dermatologist. He cannot function without his stupefying arsenal of medications, but they exact a high price.

"I'm just a zombie walking around," he says.

Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon's arsenal of it - thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.

A shell coated with depleted uranium pierces a tank like a hot knife through butter, exploding on impact into a charring inferno. As tank armor, it repels artillery assaults. It also leaves behind a fine radioactive dust with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Depleted uranium is the garbage left from producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and energy plants. It is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium. The U.S. has an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of it, sitting in hazardous waste storage sites across the country. Meaning it is plentiful and cheap as well as highly effective.

Reed says he unknowingly breathed DU dust while living with his unit in Samawah, Iraq. He was med-evaced out in July 2003, nearly unable to walk because of lightning-strike pains from herniated discs in his spine. Then began a strange series of symptoms he'd never experienced in his previously healthy life.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C, he ran into a buddy from his unit. And another, and another, and in the tedium of hospital life between doctor visits and the dispensing of meds, they began to talk.

"We all had migraines. We all felt sick," Reed says. "The doctors said, 'It's all in your head.'"

Then the medic from their unit showed up. He too, was suffering. That made eight sick soldiers from the 442nd Military Police, an Army National Guard unit made up of mostly cops and correctional officers from the New York area.

But the medic knew something the others didn't.

Dutch marines had taken over the abandoned train depot dubbed Camp Smitty, which was surrounded by tank skeletons, unexploded ordnance and shell casings. They'd brought radiation-detection devices. The readings were so hot, the Dutch set up camp in the middle of the desert rather than live in the station ruins.

"We got on the Internet," Reed said, "and we started researching depleted uranium."

Then they contacted The New York Daily News, which paid for sophisticated urine tests available only overseas.

Then they hired a lawyer.

Reed, Gerard Matthew, Raymond Ramos, Hector Vega, Augustin Matos, Anthony Yonnone, Jerry Ojeda and Anthony Phillip all have depleted uranium in their urine, according to tests done in December 2003, while they bounced for months between Walter Reed and New Jersey's Fort Dix medical center, seeking relief that never came.

The analyses were done in Germany, by a Frankfurt professor who developed a depleted uranium test with Randall Parrish, a professor of isotope geology at the University of Leicester in Britain.

The veterans, using their positive results as evidence, have sued the U.S. Army, claiming officials knew the hazards of depleted uranium, but concealed the risks.

The Department of Defense says depleted uranium is powerful and safe, and not that worrisome.

Four of the highest-registering samples from Frankfurt were sent to the VA.
 
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