From the July 1998 Idaho Observer:

Bill Will Make it Illegal to Experiment on Troops

Yes: Current law makes it legal for DoD to experiment on American troops

by Debra Smith

On June 11, Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) introduced two critical bills addressing Gulf War veterans immediate concerns. Twenty-two cosponsors, including all members of the Human Resources Subcommittee and Chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) have signed the proposed legislation. The bills are being supported by veterans associations such as the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition with 92 member organizations and the National Gulf War Resource Center, an international coalition of 35 veterans' groups.

The first bill, the Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Act of 1998 (H.R. 4036), would establish the presumption of service-connection for illnesses associated with exposure to toxins; chemical, biological, environmental or wartime hazardous materials, in the theater of operations during the Gulf War. This includes pesticides and repellents such as diazinon, malathion, carbaryl, methomyl, lindane, and DEET. Nerve agents Sarin and Tabun, low-level mustard agents and drugs to protect against these weapons are included as toxic exposures the soldiers faced in the Gulf.

Battlefield and environmental health hazards encompass uranium, depleted uranium, microwave and RF radiation, oil fire byproducts, and diesel heater fumes. Just as important as the toxic exposure list is the requirement that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs accept the findings of independent scientific research of the illnesses linked to actual and presumed toxic exposures.

The bill would also require the VA to commission an independent panel for oversight of ongoing treatment provided to ailing Gulf War veterans. This recommendation has been popular by those investigating the DOD's biased exploration of the possible causes of Gulf War veterans undiagnosable health complaints.

The Drugs and Informed Consent Armed Forces Protection Act of 1998 (H.R. 4035) would revoke the interim rule established by the Food and Drug Administration in 1990 that allowed the Pentagon to use investigation or experimental drugs without Gulf War soldiers informed consent.

The bill would require presidential corroboration on the use of investigational or experimental drugs by the DoD in the future. It would also mandate the DoD provide detailed, written information to troops prior to the use those drugs, as well as accurate record keeping of those to whom the shots have been administered. It is estimated that over 70 percent of the medical records pertaining to the use of investigational or experimental drugs during the Gulf War have been destroyed or misplaced.

Congressman Shays has been a long time supporter of the Gulf War veterans and has held 13 hearings on Gulf War Illnesses since 1995. His report, "Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses:

VA and DoD Continue to Resist Strong Evidence Linking Toxic Causes to Chronic Effects" was approved by all members of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee last November.

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