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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 20:06 GMT 21:06 UK
Ill Gulf veterans 'feel like foe'
A unidentified soldier is injected during the first Gulf War
A soldier receives an injection in the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War
Veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have been made to feel like "the enemy" when complaining of suffering post-conflict illnesses, a London inquiry has heard.

John Nichol, president of the Royal British Legion's Gulf veterans' branch, said troops had been given a cocktail of anti-anthrax and plague vaccines.

They were also possibly exposed to nerve agents when Iraqi weapons storage sites were destroyed, he said.

A woman blamed the death of her baby on drugs given to her husband in Iraq.

Vichy Warriner, 36, from Peterborough, told the inquiry her late baby girl was born with deformities which she thinks were caused by injections and tablets given to her former husband why he was deployed in the Gulf.

In 1999, the couple learned from a scan at 35 weeks that their baby was hydrocephalus, having a disproportionately big head.

When baby Catherine was born she had several deformities, including no ears, widely spaced eyes, a club foot and a set of ribs missing.

She died after seven and a half hours.

Tragically, for many of my comrades in arms, the end of that six-week war marked the beginning of their suffering.
John Nichol, 1991 Gulf War veteran
Addenbrookes Hospital said mutagenic effects were "unlikely", but added they would not completely rule out a possible link between the deformities and medical treatment servicemen underwent during the Gulf War - given the limited knowledge of what went on during that conflict.

Support groups claim about 6,000 veterans have suffered unexplained ill health.

Hundreds of veterans have tried to claim compensation, but solicitors advised earlier this year that there was insufficient evidence to prove their cases in court.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) maintains the illnesses are so varied there can be no distinct syndrome or a specific cause.

Flight Lieutenant Nichol told the inquiry opening on Monday that symptoms complained of included chronic fatigue, memory loss, depression, mood swings, aching joints, sensitivity to chemicals and cancerous tumours.

The former RAF Tornado navigator, who was held as a prisoner of war for 49 days after his plane was shot down on the first day of the conflict, said: "The members of our armed forces were ready and willing to give everything, including their lives.

"And now, in their hour of need, they expect - they deserve - their country to help them."

Kuwaiti oil field burning in 1991 Gulf War
An oil field burns in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War
He added: "The men and the women you will hear from over the coming days are not the enemy, but many times over the past few years that is exactly how they've been made to feel - they deserve better."

He said 1991 Gulf War troops had been given up to 14 inoculations and experienced the first mass use of nerve agent pre-treatment NAPS, as well as being exposed to the use of pesticides, depleted uranium dust and atmospheric pollution from burning oil wells.

One of the first witnesses, Larry Cammock, chairman of the Gulf Veterans Association, said the inoculation programme had been "chaotic".

He said he awoke one night to find somebody putting a needle into him.

"When I asked what it was, he said 'you don't want to know, don't worry about it'."

Mr Cammock said he now suffered from immune deficiency problems, diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorder and arthritis.

The inquiry, which is being funded by an anonymous donor, aims to take evidence from 30 ex-servicemen, medical experts and government representatives.




SEE ALSO:
Gulf war compensation bid fails
05 Feb 04  |  Health


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