Saturday, March 20, 2004

Why are Gulf War I veterans getting sick?

Caught this brief article on the high rate of approved medical disability claims for Gulf War I veterans:
    There is something else going on that is far more difficult to see – those who survive the fighting are coming home with terrible medical problems by the tens of thousands. Take a look at these facts:

    • Estimated Gulf War I (1991) veterans: 573,000

    • Average soldier exposure to ground campaign: 100 hours

    • Number of air battle sorties: 32,000

    • Number of U.S. casualties: 148 killed, 467 wounded

    However, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are paying out medical disability payments to 221,000 Gulf War veterans. Another 52,000 have claims in for the same status, as of about a year ago. In other words, 39 percent of all the vets who fought in the Gulf War have already been determined by the military to be disabled!

    Compare this to the rate of approved medical disability claims during World War II (6.6 percent), Korea (5 percent) and Vietnam (9.6 percent).

    Why are our vets coming home so sick? Could it be the 320 tons of depleted uranium (DU) dust that litters the battlefield?
Knowing how damned difficult it is to get an approved medical disability from the VA (service connected claims), I was stunned. If anything, 39% is probably on the low side. Since the system is so hard to navigate, many give up or use their own health insurance if that's possible.