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Activists Urge Greater Medical Support for Gulf War Veterans Exposed to Sarin Gas

ect based exposure levels. For instance, compared with their unexposed peers, veterans exposed to chemical munitions for one day were 72 percent more likely to die from brain cancer, while those exposed for two or more days were 226 percent more likely to die from brain cancer, it had said.

Yet it is doubtful if even now, over 16 years after the Khamisiyah disaster, the Department of Defense (DOD) will finally face the issue of US-troop sarin exposure. One obvious reason is money. If the DoD admitted to withholding critical information connected to their medical illnesses, tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of Gulf War veterans could potentially become eligible for compensation.

Second, acknowledging the sarin issue could raise further questions about the Pentagon's 2003 admission of having tested biological/chemical agents on 5,842 service members from 1962-73. In operations called Project 112 and Project SHAD, the Defense Department tested weapons capabilities on troops in six states (Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Utah), Canada and Britain. Many veterans of those operations were not informed for decades and are still fighting for compensation and recognition.

Third, an admission of guilt would weaken the DoD's credibility regarding controversial programs today. For example, the anthrax vaccine is mandatory for military personnel and civilians deploying to "high-threat" areas across the globe, including Iraq and Afghanistan, despite being linked to serious illnesses and even death among US service members. Quite conveniently, the quarterly analysis of medical care data for vaccinated service members was ended in 2002, critics charge.

Several lawmakers who were briefed on the White team study say the Department of Veterans Affairs is now obligated to provide increased neurological care to veterans who may have been exposed.

But Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, deputy director of the Force Hea
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