When it comes to supporting our troops and veterans, there are many bloggers who walk the walk as they talk their talk. Charlie, Tammara and REB 84 are three who I have the pleasure of knowing, if only on the ‘internets’ through emails and their blogs. These are individuals that spend much of their lives educating the public and our elected officials about the human cost of the wars our country wages. Tony Snow might call dead soldiers ‘just a number’ and Bush may call them ‘a comma’ , but I choose to believe that most people inherently care about the human cost of war and human suffering. I might be deluded and god knows that is entirely possible, but I just couldn’t go through life thinking people are cold, calculating, unfeeling individuals by nature. If I wanted to feel that way, I would watch the local TV News.
No, uncaring and warmongering are learned emotions and responses. Unless of course you happen to be Dick Cheney, but I digress.
Tammara and the two gents I named have raised my awareness of DU-Depleted Uranium. It’s something our military has labeled a ‘necessary evil.’
Well, Depleted Uranium is outright fucking evil if you listen to scientists who know what this nasty shit really does. The United States government sent Dr. Doug Rokke to the Middle East during and after the first Gulf War. He was sent to investigate the effects and amounts of DU left there by our military.
Upon returning home, Dr. Rokke became sick from the very substance he was sent to investigate. He was put on 40% disability due to his hazardous service. His reward, our government keeps putting him back into action checking the latest DU rounds are troops are exploding all over Iraq. At least he is supporting our troops. The problem is, he submits his reports and the federal government does nothing with them.
Doug Rokke now lectures on Depleted Uranium and its tragic effects, one of which is available here as a podcast to download. The podcast is a lecture from last year. His lecture is very blunt. Dr. Rokke doesn’t mince words. He says that war’s objective is to kill, and that DU weapons are the cream of the ever-lovin crop…he doesn’t deny that fact. What he tells us is…DU is the “gift that keeps on giving”….years and decades after the War is won or lost, casualties continue to mount up long after the tanks have left and the soldiers are back home…safe in their own beds.
By the way, the only way to remove the hazards of DU is to totally encase the ‘thing’ blown up and the surrounding topsoil. To wrap it up like a ‘huge hershey’s kiss’. Then you dig down 6 inches at least and remove the topsoil for roughly 1000 feet around. It’s a process the military isn’t willing to do. Seriously, they removed 25 blown up vehicles from the Gulf War I…shipped them back to the states…and it took them 3 years to figure out how to totally destroy the vehicles and remove all trace of DU.
What did our government do after this? They decided not to do THAT again. It is too expensive and too messy to think about, or deal with. How does our government plan to deal with the health problems of the Iraqi citizen’s that have been exposed to DU in Iraq? I mean, think about it..we used those ‘bunker busters’ in the cities.
Officially, the US Government does not recognize overexposure to Depleted Uranium as a medical illness. They won’t treat our men for it…because basically they say it doesn’t exist. Its not on the books, sorry…come back later after you have developed cancer or another of the side effects of DU overexposure.
We have left a toxic wasteland all over the world. DU has been used in one form or another since the 40’s. The level of use during the 1st Gulf War was the highest…before the current one anyway…
Dr. Michael Kilpatrick is the medical man for the military. This guy is the one who states overexposure to Depleted Uranium isn’t on the books, therefore it must not exist. It would be prudent to note that US Military does have a training film about exposure to DU. The problem is, much of the equipment issued to deal with an instance of exposure to DU is faulty. It is old. It is outdated, like so much of the equipment we sent our soldiers off to this war with. Most of the time, our soldiers are exposed to DU without their knowledge. Many have actually picked up pieces of contaminated, melted equipment and fashioned jewelry and other memorabilia out of it.
There are hundreds of miles of blown-up-shit all over Iraq. The Depleted Uranium won’t go away and neither will the costs of dealing with its victims. The military’s healthcare budget is off the charts. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. But cutting corners on this issue and burying our head in the sand is fuckwittery at its worst my dear reader. If they governments makes our troops use these weapons of mass destruction, they have the obligation to take care of them when they get sick.
Truth is hard to find if it’s not on the books, and it just wouldn’t do, to tell on yourself if you’re the U.S. military. But the following statistics from the VA tell us part of the story:
“At the completion of the Gulf War, when we came back to the United States in the fall of 1991, we had a total casualty count of 760: 294 dead, a little over 400 wounded or ill. But the casualty rate now for Gulf War veterans is approximately 30 percent. Of those stationed in the theater, including after the conflict, 221,000 have been awarded disability, according to a Veterans Affairs (VA) report issued September 10, 2002.”
It is not that complicated. It isn’t friggin rocket science. If you were/are in the military in Iraq and breathed in the desert air, you were breathing in radioactive bullshit, especially in the combat theatre. The question about your health is how often and for how long you were exposed. The great your exposure, the more likely DU will take lasting effects on a your body. The government however…does not even care enough to publish the findings of Dr. Doug Rokke and other experts. This problem is not a question for either the republicans or democrats. They both share the blame. All administrations, including both the Bush administrations have been complicit in hiding the problems and illnesses associated with Depleted Uranium by refusing to admit they exist in any appreciable numbers.
Ain’t that a shitty way to support the troops?