Sunday, December 16, 2007

Operation SHAD the "secret tests"

AND INFORMATION -- "Now is the time when most of these people
are getting the illnesses and having the effects. If we wait much
longer, it's going to be too late to do anything for these people."

For more about project SHAD, use the VA Watchdog search here...
Story here...
Story below:
Veterans harmed by secret tests seek compensation, information
By MIKE DENNISON of the Missoulian State Bureau
HELENA - Navy veteran John Olsen of Billings, who took part in top-secret chemical-weapons testing more than 40 years ago, has had skin cancer, prostate cancer and an adrenal tumor the size of his fist.Olsen believes his health problems are linked to the chemicals and biological agents to which he and others were exposed on an Army tugboat in the Pacific Ocean during the tests.Yet after years of trying to get the U.S. Department of Defense to acknowledge the link and provide information and health benefits to those subjected to the testing, Olsen and others, including U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, are still waiting.*“They should identify and notify these people,” Olsen said in a recent interview. “Now is the time when most of these people are getting the illnesses and having the effects. If we wait much longer, it's going to be too late to do anything for these people.”
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Rehberg, R-Mont., and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., have worked on this obscure cause for more than six years now, introducing bills and pushing the Defense Department to come clean and provide health benefits for the 500 or so veterans involved in the Shipboard Hazard and Defense project, known by the acronym SHAD.They hoped for a breakthrough this year with the completion of a$1 million study of health effects among SHAD veterans conducted by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.Rehberg, Olsen and others thought it would identify health problems and give the Defense Department information needed to provide health benefits or other compensation for affected SHAD veterans.But the study was woefully incomplete, Rehberg and others said.It found no unusually high level of health effects among veterans in the testing project - but didn't include all the veterans subjected to the chemicals and biological agents on the tugboats, while including numerous veterans in the project but not subjected to the chemicals, they said.“It was a very poorly done study,” Rehberg said last week. “I was appalled that we spent over $1 million on a study that was incomplete. You feel like you wasted all the time and all the money on something that was just shoddy work.”Christine Stencel, a spokeswoman for the institute in Washington, said study authors did try to reach other SHAD veterans through veterans groups, and called those who had been identified to get them to respond.The report, however, said outreach through the veterans groups produced only a few additional people.Rehberg and Thompson said they're working with the institute and the Defense Department to review and revise the study.The two congressmen also have inserted language into a veterans health bill that gives the U.S. Veterans Administration permanent authority to give SHAD veterans high-priority care, without the veterans having to prove a service-connected injury.The measure passed the House this summer and sits now before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Rehberg said he's optimistic the Senate will take up the bill next year.Rehberg got involved in the issue shortly after taking office in 2001, when he met with Olsen.“It's a classic case of an individual who was put in harm's way by his government,” Rehberg said. “There has to be a certain responsibility on the part of the government when they've wronged someone.”Olsen, 67, was among several hundred servicemen hand-picked to undergo testing on the tugboats as part of SHAD.SHAD was part of Project 112, a Cold War-era testing of biological and chemical weapons, ordered by then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara because the government felt it had to catch up to the Soviet Union on chemical warfare, veterans who participated said.Olsen said he and his crew mates first underwent briefing and training, which included experimental vaccinations for diseases such as rabbit fever, and then were sent to Johnston Island, some 700 miles west of Hawaii.The island, which had a U.S. Navy airstrip and other facilities, was a storage site for nerve gas and also a nuclear testing site.Over four months in early 1965, Olsen said he was on a tugboat that joined four other boats that went out to sea and were sprayed from the air with chemical and biological agents, including rabbit fever and an anthrax-like substance. Nerve gas also was used, but Olsen said he wasn't involved in that test.The soldiers were inside sealed quarters when hazardous material was sprayed on the boats, but Olsen said paper filters designed to prevent material from getting through air ducts often deteriorated when they got wet in rough seas.Hours after material was sprayed on the boats, the crew members would come on deck and wash it down while wearing protective gear, including gas masks and boots.However, the same gear was worn day after day, and was cleaned each night with an aerosol, ethylene oxide, which was later found to be a cancer-causing agent, Olsen said.The crews also had to disinfect the inside of the ship occasionally, because of the failing air filters, and the material used in the cleaning - beta-propolactone - was “one of the most carcinogenic things that's ever been developed,” Olsen said.“The only thing we sealed up (during) the cleaning was the fridge,” he said. “Our bunks, our clothes, our lockers were exposed.”Olsen said crew members assumed adequate health protections were employed by the Defense Department during the tests. But 20 years later, when Olsen was 40, he developed malignant hypertension, an extremely rare form of high blood pressure that is often fatal.Veterans Administration doctors said the condition was caused by a tumor on his adrenal gland, and removed it: “Mine was about the size of my fist, but it's supposed to be the size of a thumbnail.”Fifteen years later, Olsen attended a reunion of SHAD veterans in San Diego. While there, he found that many had experienced unusual health problems, usually respiratory diseases and cancers.Jack Alderson, a lieutenant in charge of a SHAD tugboat fleet in the 1960s, also attended the reunions, beginning in the 1990s. When he heard about the health problems, which reflected his own, he decided to do something about it.“That was at the point that I started trying to open it up,” said Alderson, 74, who lives now in Ferndale, Calif.Alderson and Olsen have been among those leading the charge to get the Defense Department to acknowledge the testing, locate and inform veterans about the health hazards, and offer medical care and possibly compensation.Initially the department wouldn't even admit the testing occurred, but did so in 2001, after CBS broke a story on it, Alderson said.But the Defense Department has yet to acknowledge a link between the testing and health problems of those involved.“We did everything within the knowledge of the safety at the time (of the tests), but since then knowledge has progressed,” Alderson said. “Some of those things are probably a little more hazardous to our health than we expected.“Now we know that we were in harm's way. They should admit it, they should take responsibility, see that we are cared for, for our health and our well-being. And my goodness, we're only talking about 500 people.”Olsen said the government must have a list of those involved in the tests, and should notify them and give information to their health-care providers about agents used in testing and cleaning.SHAD veterans also should get classification from the VA to get medical care for the effects of the testing, and receive disability benefits, Olsen added. Survivors of veterans who've died from test-related illnesses also should be compensated, Alderson and Olsen said.Rehberg said both he and Thompson have no plans to give up their quest to get some sort of recognition and help for the SHAD veterans.“We're not going to let go of this thing,” he said. “It's the least we can do for them, and we ought to do more.”
------------------------- Larry Scott --
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My complaints with this, are the same arguments I make about the Edgewood Arsenal test veterans all 7120 of them. Many of them are either already deceased or disabled and the VA and the IOM studies do not match the high statistics and the VA and DOD ignore other government agency reports that show the links to chemical weapons and toxic exposures, to limit compensation and liability owed the veterans or their families. They used these men in dangerous experiments with total disregard for their long term health, and now that they are showing high disability rates and early deaths, they are stonewalling them and their widows with bogus and incomplete "scientific studies" while ignoring National Institute of Health reports and CDC toxin reports showing the nexus and the links to the damage, why won't Congress make the VA accept responsibility for what was done 35-60 years ago in secret Cold War era experiments?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

does any of this surprise anyone