Are we giving him the “support” he needs
Are we giving them the “support” they need?
Many veterans from Maine and across the country think the answer to this question is NO! That’s why a large group of veterans from as far away as California descended on Washington, D. C. last weekend to hand President Bush a petition with more than 2,000 signatures opposing the war in Iraq. Here are some of the reasons for their opposition:
not convinced by President Bush’s claims that Iraq poses a threat to the United
■ Veterans are concerned that the war with Iraq has no constitutional basis
since Congress has not passed
■ Veterans think that President Bush’s policy of pre-emption sets a dangerous precedent
and is likely to
stimulate rather than reduce global conflict.
Veterans, who participated in the first Iraq war, are also concerned about the health risks to combatants in a second conflict. An estimated thirty per cent of the men and women returning from Iraq in 1991 have been diagnosed with a mysterious group of disorders that have come to be known as “Gulf War Syndrome.” These ailments are now generally recognized as having been caused by exposure to chemical weapons, depleted uranium, and untested drugs. Will the soldiers returning from a second Iraq war develop the same diseases in the same proportion? (For more information on health risks, see back side)
We at the Peace and Justice Center are concerned for our troops and our veterans:
■ Cuts in Veterans Benefits.
The proposed Bush budget cuts $14 billion in veterans benefits. We
consider it a disgrace, for example, that Maine veterans must wait 6 months or more for health care at Togus VA Medical Center.
■ The Use of Depleted Uranium.
The use by the U.S. of depleted uranium and other toxics puts our
troops at risk for a lifetime of illness and suffering.
■ Misleading Recruitment of Young People.
We are concerned that, especially in today’s bad job
market, young people are lured into the military by prospects of job training and financial aid for college without the warning that they could be sent to war and be maimed or killed.
IF YOU SHARE OUR CONCERN FOR OUR TROOPS, WHO MAY NOT BE SUPPORTED WHEN THEY RETURN AS OUR VETERANS, CONTACT:
Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, 170 Park St., Bangor, ME 04401 Phone: (207) 942-9343. E-mail:. Web: www.peacectr.or .
Health Risks to Troops in Iraq
Exposure to depleted uranium
■ DU was used in the first Gulf war primarily in anti-tank weapons
■ DU is being used in the current conflict in Cruise missile warheads that are pummeling Baghdad (white
sparks in the mushroom clouds rising above the city are burning uranium fragments)
■ U. S. troops assigned to occupy Baghdad will unavoidably inhale uranium dust ■ In spite of Pentagon denials, exposure to uranium may cause cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses ■ One particle of uranium dust lodged in a human lung emits 800 times the recommended “safe” level for
Exposure to untested drugs
■ Drugs that may be used in the Iraq war to protect our armed forces from chemical attack have been
exempted by the FDA from the normal requirement that they be tested on human subjects
■ One of these drugs, pyridostigmine bromide (PB), was administered in the first Gulf war and has been
linked to some of the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome
Inadequate military training for chemical attack
■ Troops deployed to Iraq have not received the necessary training (40 hours/year) for defense against a
■ Military currently provides only 4 hours/year of training for recruits, 2 hours/year after that ■ Trainers do not have the necessary background–only 30 per cent of the officers in the Army Chemical Corps
Omission of required health screenings
■ A 1997 law (PL 105-85) requires that all military personnel be given medical examinations before and after
■ Purpose of the law is to provide accurate medical data so that veteran health and disability claims can be
administered fairly–no benchmark data was available for claims related to Gulf War Syndrome in the first Iraq war
■ Troops deployed to the Gulf have not received the mandated health screenings
Veterans Speak Out
“What bothers me most is the idea that our so-called Commanders in Chief and their cabals are all-knowing. I've had my bellyful Commanders in Chief. Try Lyndon Johnson and Nixon in Vietnam, Reagan in Central America or in Grenada, Bush I wiping out low income housing and killing 2000 Panamanians in order to capture one drug dealer. Or our Commanders in Chief giving arms and military training to military butchers in Turkey and Indonesia. Bush II inspires no confidence in me.”–Tom Sturtevant, President of Maine Veterans for Peace, Korean War Veteran, 1950-54, U.S. Navy “Some of my friends think that we are not supporting the men and women in uniform if we protest the war. I tell them we are supporting them in the only way that shows we value their lives more than we want to stroke the ego of one spoiled rich kid.”–N. Dale Thompson, US Navy, 1957-79
“Thirty years ago I raised my right hand and took the oath to defend my country. I was proud to do it. Today I feel nothing but shame in the direction this country is headed. I have three sons who will soon be of age to serve–I would feel proud if they refused.”–Thomas M. Myers, US Army, 1974-1978
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