Tuesday, October 12, 2004

GUINEA PIG SOLDIERS

Experimental anthrax vaccine is suspected of making soldiers ill.

A former Dover Air Force Base commander says military officials used his troops as guinea pigs in illegal medical experiments under the government's controversial anthrax vaccination program.


After some of his troops in their 20s and 30s began developing arthritis, neurological problems, memory loss and incapacitating migraine headaches, Col. Felix Grieder took a drastic step. In 1999, he halted the vaccination program in Dover, a move he said ended his military career. The decorated Air Force colonel has spent the past five years trying to discover the truth about the vaccine program in Dover, where he commanded 4,000 troops.

"In my opinion, there was illegal medical experimentation going on," says Grieder, who lives in Texas.


[...]

Lt. Richard Rovet worked at Dover's Flight Medicine Clinic, where his duties included nursing, case management and patient advocacy.

Rovet described to the subcommittee the adverse reactions to the vaccine he had seen inpatients at the clinic.

The symptoms included memory impairment, dizziness, ringing in the ears, joint pain, muscle pain, numbness in various parts of the body, miscarriage, cardiac problems, swollen testicles, hypothyroidism, chills, fever, rashes, photosensitivity and constant fatigue.

"We have been told time after time that the vaccine is entirely safe, yet there is a disparity between what we are told and what we are seeing," Rovet said.

The military's anthrax Web site claims the vaccine is safe, because "The Food and Drug Administration individually approves each lot before release."

But FDA documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the FDA no longer tests the lots for squalene.

Grabenstein said testing for squalene is not necessary.


[...]

The Uniform Code of Military Justice specifies that military personnel have no right to refuse a lawful order. Military judges have ruled that the order requiring service members to take the anthrax vaccine is lawful.

Phil Cave, a Virginia-based defense attorney, has represented three service members who have refused to take the anthrax vaccine.

"The issue of whether the Defense Department can do this is pretty well resolved by the courts," Cave said. "I have to tell them the law considers it a lawful order. If they refuse, they risk prosecution, discharge and jail."

Cave was successful at lessening the punishment in his three cases. Two received minor admonishments. One lost rank and pay.

Other personnel haven't been as lucky. Several anthrax refusers have received dishonorable discharges coupled with several months of confinement.

Many of the military personnel interviewed for this story said they were forced to choose between their health and their career. Cave said the likelihood of military punishment is significant for those who refuse vaccination. "I have to advise them it's in their best interests to take it."


This is a very long article and deserves a full read, especially since we are looking so closely at the return of the military draft.
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