- WASHINGTON (www.nando.net) - Two bills were introduced in Congress Thursday
to force the U.S. government to accept that Gulf War illness is real and
caused by exposure to chemicals, and to give soldiers the right to refuse
to be used as guinea pigs in the future.
- Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays
introduced the bills at the start of a hearing on overhauling the way medical
trials are supervised.
- "During the Gulf War, U.S. troops
were forced to take pyridostigmine bromide, or PB, which, when combined
with heat, exercise or exposure to other toxic agents present in the Gulf,
could produce serious, chronic health effects," Shays said.
- "Our investigation leads us to believe
PB may be one of the key factors in the unexplained illnesses of many Gulf
- Shays chairs the human resources subcommittee
of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. It has responsibility
for the Veterans' Administration.
- The Pentagon's investigation into complaints
ranging from loss of memory to chronic headaches by some 60,000 veterans
of the 1991 Gulf War has found no common cause or hard evidence they were
caused by Iraqi chemical or biological agents.
- Shays' bill, the Persian Gulf War Veterans
Health Act of 1998, would establish that exposure to chemicals in the Gulf
during the war is responsible for the illnesses.
- It would also make the VA commission
an independent scientific panel that would check for health problems among
Gulf War veterans.
- The second bill, the Drugs and Informed
Consent Armed Forces Protection Act, would require presidential agreement
before the military could give drugs to soldiers without informed consent.
- It would also require the Department
of Defense to give written details about experimental or new drugs to troops
before they are given the drugs. Current law only makes the department
tell soldiers what they have been given within 30 days afterwards.