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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Raw's 'Mind Games' Series Wraps Up

Two of our good friends from Veterans for America (VFA), Steve Robinson and Paul Sullivan, appear throughout the fourth installment of Raw Story's excellent Mind Games series I've mentioned this past week. Read Parts 1 | 2 | 3.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for a few grafs from Part 4...

From Raw Story (via Veterans for America):

Nearly 10 years after veterans' advocates successfully lobbied for Congress to mandate pre-and post-deployment face-to-face medical examinations for troops, (see public law 105-85, sections 762-767 in the attached National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998), they are still facing many of the same access-to-care and liability issues they once thought they had resolved.

Paul Sullivan and his Veterans for America (VFA) colleague, Steve Robinson, both fought for passage of the 1997 Congressional order. As Gulf War veterans they knew from bitter first-hand experience what a huge difference a mandatory, documented face-to-face medical examination with a health care professional could make for service members on their way to and from duty.

The men and women who fought in the Gulf War had neither. And thousands of them came home in the early 90s reporting symptoms that included joint pain, headaches, memory loss, rashes, balance problems, and loss of motor skills -- all part of what has commonly come to be known as "Gulf War syndrome."

But veterans' attempts to access diagnosis, treatment, and compensation through the DOD and/or the VA were mostly denied as unsubstantiated. It was easy to dismiss their claims, but nearly impossible for veterans to prove that their symptoms were not pre-existing conditions, because the DOD had never established a pre-deployment baseline for service members' health, nor measured their exposure to contaminants in the field. (Vietnam veterans two decades earlier had successfully sued the makers of Agent Orange for their ailments, but not the military itself.)

The DOD's failure to collect this data also meant that it avoided even the possibility of paying millions, if not billions, of dollars in compensation to disabled veterans.

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