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For the first time in his life, Sgt. X is afraid.

My friend Sgt. X (not his real name) served ten years in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Kuwait in Desert Storm and another in Somalia. He’s experienced battle and seen brothers in arms fall. He can poke fun at himself for once getting his military vehicle lost on the wrong side of a fortified border and still managing to make it back with all his men safe and sound; he couldn't say the same about his vehicle. Sgt. X would be the last to claim he is a hero, but he served his country with honor and pride.

But now Sgt. X is afraid for his life. This time the enemy isn’t Iraqis or Somalis, it’s his own body - specifically, his brain - and the damage was done by our side. And he’s not the only one fighting this battle. Neither will he be the last.

Once a week for three years the Army gave Sgt. X and others deployed in the Middle East and Africa the pill known as Lariam, the commercial name for the anti-malarial drug mefloquine. Mefloquine is known to have rare but severe side effects including seizures, paranoia and hallucinations.

Last year Sgt. X suffered his first seizure. Neurologists were at a loss at first to determine the cause of the seizure. The came another seizure, and another. Sgt. X's seizures have been described by one doctor as like an "electrical storm" in his brain: sudden and chaotic.

As the seizures became more frequent they also come with more devastating effects. A fall during his latest seizure injured his back, which left him bed-ridden for more than a week.

Sgt. X used to enjoy customizing his car. Now he fears having a seizure while driving. His concern is not for his own safety but that of others on the road. Sgt. X says he couldn’t live with the guilt of killing or crippling someone in an accident he wouldn’t even remember.

Sgt. X still goes to work, although he’s missed a lot of time - nine days in ten in one recent stretch. So far he's avoided having a seizure while at work, but the thought that he might someday assails his ego. "Flopping around on the floor," in his words, in front of his coworkers would be humiliating and "unmanly". It's a foolish notion, of course, but very real to Sgt. X.

Sgt. X's coworkers keep an eye on his well-being. At times he lapses into distraction, his focus fuzzy, his energy drained and eyes distant. He mops his brow of the perspiration caused by anti-seizure medication. He experiences bouts of irritability and sudden fatigue. Sometimes he falls asleep and his friends on the job pick up the slack while they let him sleep. This just makes Sgt. X feel even worse.

“Very sorry and feeling guilty...,” he texts. “Wish it was like the old days when I was invincible.” At the age of 48, Sgt. X feels powerless, lost inside his own body, at war with his own mind.

Sgt. X and his doctors are aware of his long-term exposure to mefloquine and its probable role in his declining health. Thousands of current or former troops deployed in the Middle East and Somalia are now suffering the effects of mefloquine. Mefloquine came up as a possible explanation after four Fort Bragg, North Carolina, soldiers killed their wives within 43 days in 2002. The families of some troops blame the drug for the suicides of their loved ones.

Critics of the drug in organizations such as Lariam Action USA and the National Gulf War Resources Center believe Lariam is connected to the surge in military suicides in 2003, when 23 people deployed to Iraq and Kuwait took their lives. The suicide rate dropped after Lariam’s use was halted in Iraq.

The U.S. military, which developed the drug after the Vietnam War, maintains that mefloquine is safe and effective, though officials have expressed some concern and the military tells its pilots not to take Lariam. Dr. Remington Nevin, an Army major and epidemiologist who has studied the drug and its effects, says "Mefloquine is a zombie drug. It’s dangerous, and it should have been killed off years ago."

Nevin angered superiors by publicly calling mefloquine “probably the worst-suited drug for the military.”

According to its own internal documents, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Lariam's maker, has received over 3,000 reports of users developing psychiatric problems associated with the drug, from nightmares, depression and hallucinations to paranoia, psychosis and aggression. One American tourist, Jane Daehler, vacationing in Kenya in 2011, experienced a most severe reaction.

"She just became completely psychotic in the van," says her husband, Bob. "[She] started taking her clothes off and she had called people back from the dead. And they had a doctor at this lodge that came into the van. And she looked at Jane and she said, 'Did she take Lariam?' She said she had seen this in many Americans."

So had three other doctors in Africa, who confirmed the diagnosis. Jane Daehler was flown home, strapped to her seat. At home, she spent a month in a psychiatric hospital, in and out of psychosis, with terrifying hallucinations. At the U.S. hospital, she was diagnosed with Lariam-induced psychosis.

An order issued by the Army in 2009 said soldiers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury should not be given the drug. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of the murders of 17 Afghan civilians on March 17, 2012, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2010 during his third combat tour. There has been speculation that Bales may have been exposed at some length to Lariam, although the Army refuses to confirm this, citing the privacy of medical records.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson has ordered a review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. The task order from Woodson begins: "Some deploying Service members have been provided mefloquine for malaria prophylaxis without appropriate documentation in their medical records and without proper screening for contraindications."

In 2008, the Army dispensed 8,574 prescriptions of the drug. In 2010, that number fell to 2,054 as the service transitioned to other anti-malarial drugs. But while the Army and Air Force have increasingly found alternatives for Lariam, namely Doxycycline and Malarone, the Marine Corps and Navy have not and continue to dispense the drug routinely.

Meanwhile, American servicemen and women who have been given the drug in the past continue to develop seizures and other serious mental health problems. Some may injure themselves or others in acts of aggression, and some may commit suicide. Still others face the prospect of having their lives taken away little by little.

Like my friend, Sgt. X.

Originally posted to Richard Riis on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Can't Speak To Lariam (36+ / 0-)

    I just know we have to do something here across the board. I dated a women that served in the first Gulf War. I was like 21 at the time. She told me she had been raped many times. Other terrible things. I am not who I am now and didn't know what to say. Wasn't there for her.

    We've left a lot of wounded people out there and we need to address that yesterday!

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:18:19 AM PDT

    •  Rape was part of the package. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye Nut Schell, glitterscale

      Tailhook and the 'combat exemption for women' codified the open season on women in uniform.

      Historic palliatives like alcohol are forbidden to our troops, and chemical controls put in their place.  Think the Vietnam vets with NO WAY to shut off your brain.  And Big Pharma makes big money.

      Mercenary take over of our military by contractors also degrades and devalues the uniformed, professional soldier.

      We can no longer employ our military without for-profit contractor assistance.  

      The Praetorian Guard in coats and ties.

      Joy shared is doubled. Pain shared is halved. Spider Robinson

      by nolagrl on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:51:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The flip side of the culture of obedience is (31+ / 0-)

    consent. The advantage of the all-volunteer military, from the perspective of those in command, is that the troops, in having agreed to surrender their lives, if necessary, for their country, have implicitly surrendered all other rights, as well. It's a variant of the "lesser/included offenses" mentality and the "informed consent" ass-covering provisions adopted by the medical industry. The military's position is "you agreed to follow orders, so why are you complaining? Be glad you're not dead."
    It's an attitude that has to be refuted. It's an attitude that is basically abusive. Which is why it requires an outside intervention. We have to make it clear to the military that the abuse has to stop. If a person is mentally disabled, then, at a mimimum, a pension needs to kick in.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:46:33 AM PDT

    •  Sign on the dotted line, surrender your life. (14+ / 0-)

      This is so true. The enlisted "contract" is so rediculously weighted in favor of the government it is rediculous. They can destroy your mind and body and use you up for as long as they want, especially with the ability to stop-loss through the back door draft.

      I served in the army, but when people ask me about enlisting, I tell them not to. You are offered a pittance for your risk of life, politicians will use you to further their political ambitions, and if you come out incomplete, they actively choose not to make you whole again.

      When will it stop? When the citizens become stakeholders in the military and its actions. We'll never have that with an all-volunteer military. We need to bring back the draft.

    •  Once you've decided to make war, moral (22+ / 0-)

      considerations are not likely to substantially influence your policy-making, whether in regard directly to the operations of slaughter, or in regard to mitigation of the collateral damage thereof. You cannot decide that it is okay (hell, more than okay, it is imperative) to deceive a hundred thousand of your fellow citizens into thinking they have a meaningful interest in your political objectives, and then send them off nobly to rain bloody (but, you know, honorable) horror down on the similarly bamboozled servants of the similarly ignoble objectives of the similarly amoral and wicked bosses of some other nation (or worst case, the not-particularly-ignoble objectives of those bosses, such as, trying to reserve some level of sovereignty for their people) ... where was I ... oh, right ... you can't do all that, you can't put that much effort into persuading Joe Sixpack that Jose Paquete-de-Seis is Joe's enemy and deserves to be killed, without entering an ethical Bermuda Triangle in which your moral compass spins randomly and uselessly around the dial.

      People love to talk about the amazing Christmas Truce of world war one as if it is some sort of inspiring event showing the capacity of humans to love our enemies or something; few people seem able to accept the real lesson of the Christmas Truce, which was that those men were not each other's enemies -- rather they were all the victims of the sociopathic uncivilized 10-minutes-further-along-the-evolutionary-chain-from-chimpanzees chest-thumping dick-waving bastards who sent them there.

      If anyone had learned the real lesson of the Christmas Truce, the populations of the countries involved would have hanged the aristocrats, plutocrats, generals, and politicians directly responsible for WWI, would have stripped the wealth from the surviving families of those who had been hanged, would have dismantled their armaments, would have begun the process of standing down from their African and Asian empires, and would have created the Eurozone 75 years ahead of time.

      Instead, the only lesson learned is some sort of squishy nonsense about how we aren't really all so different after all, plus Jesus.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:33:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because consenting to the possibility of being (16+ / 0-)

      shot dead, or blown up, isn't the same as being poisoned by nasty shit that turns your brain and nervous system inside out.

      And when we sign on that dotted line, it is a contract with the government that states the VA will care for us, should we become injured or incapacitated in the course of our service, even if that care is life long.

      The Government screws vets over all the time and has been for a century.

      They don't just deny us access to good medical care, they screw with our GI Bill services too. I could blame the VA exclusively, but the fish stinks from the head, and always has.

      •  Do you mind telling us how they screw with (0+ / 0-)

        our GI Bill services too ... I feel it's too confusing for me to understand what's going on with that. I also try to not get carried away with criticism as long as I don't get the facts and the reason why something is not working the way it was expected, promised and intended.

        •  MiMi, I don't like your tone (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mimi

          I have talked about this before. The paperwork is a nightmare, and all sorts of little "snafus" happen at the most unfortunate times for the vet. It messes with your head, and while that doesn't sound serious to you, it was. It was an awful and at times catastrophic distraction.

          It's very easy to harass people on the outside of a system  When that system has unlimited resources to generate loads of paperwork and red tape for any reason at all. With a mere phonecall, checks can be held up, letters threatening to garnish wages can be generated.

          Meanwhile you--all alone, are at their mercy.

          You say, "well that don't make any sense." I agree. I did my time, I wanted my college education. The VA had other ideas. Whether the "reasoning" behind their actions is logical or warranted is beyond me. All I know is I got the raw end of that stick, and I have talked to other veterans who also received similar "treatment."

          It was a huge slap in the face. One that I certainly didn't deserve.

          •  I am so sorry that I offended you with my (0+ / 0-)

            comment and tone. It was an honest question and not meant as a criticism or offense. I also apologize because I hadn't read other comments from you on this subject before.

            The reason I asked is because we did go through some confusing bureaucratic stuff with my son's post 9/11 GI bill and I just thought I would learn something specific about it from you. My experience is that the VA representatives at the colleges themselves are not representing of the VA, but representing the interests of the schools and for some reason it looks they have not much interest or knowledge to help the student getting his benefits on time. (I do believe that the first VA contact persons you address at the colleges are paid employees of the colleges and not VA employees). Also a lot of errors are made and it is almost impossible to detect them unless you are really, really determined to not allow a VA representative not doing his job. If some step wasn't done correctly it's impossible to find help to correct it.

            •  Mimi, that was really nice, thank you for (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mimi

              explaining.

              I don't believe that I will ever stop being angry about this. It's very personal to me. It changed the whole course of my life. And the timing was impeccable. With the economy being as it is, I cannot justify running up a debt when I now have kids and a mortgage.

              The VA kicked me when I was down, more than once. I take that personally. And now, if anything were to happen to my spouse--instead of being an independent woman with a college degree, who can run out and get some kind of decent job, I am just some loser with a partial college education. I am now, just as the paperwork describes me, completely "Dependent" upon his paycheck.

              I will be lucky if I can get a job as a Walmart Greeter [perish the thought].  Whatever--it will be minimum wage, if that still exists at some later date.

              I cannot even begin to describe what I put up with, to  make it to the end of my enlistment, so I could have the GI Bill Program that I have paid into. I should have just violated the UCMJ and let them kick me out. At this point, it would have made very little difference.

              I was on the Dean's list when they fucked me over. I was so fucking close. It was just more of what I suffered in uniform as far as I am concerned. Same Shit, Different Day.

              I would be a lot less angry about a lot of this stuff, if it had stopped with me. If I had been some flash in the pan "Special Case", but it just keeps happening to all of us.

              They even told us in our exit classes to be wary that the VA doesn't want us to use our benefits, because the government gets to keep it and invest it. That's no lie.

        •  Here are some links (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mimi

          http://inthesetimes.com/...

          Now before you say--that was 2007, remember we only have 10 years to use our GI Bill. So if we get locked out for some reason, then the clock is ticking down. Then it doesn't matter if you paid in, your don't get the remainder of your money.

          http://www.necn.com/...

          So, do you think that once that money is taken out of your reach, even though you earned it--that the person is going to just say, "Golly gee VA, that's alright, you can have that money! I don't need it."

          No, this is something that is going to piss me off for a lifetime.

          Ironically, my spouse is eligible for the 911 GI Bill, but I cannot access it the way a civilian spouse could, because I already had my chance.

          So even though he won't be using it, I don't get to use it either. Because that would be unfair and go against the notion that, there are no freerides in Bootstrap 'Merica. And apparently, that would qualify as a free ride.

          •  oh, the stories told in the links, is our story .. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GreenMother

            there is nothing in it that is new to me.

            My son hasn't gotten any GI bill benefit money and half of the semester is over, no book money, no living allowances, nada. The VA representative mixed up his papers and send the application to the Montgomery GI Bill department, because in the very beginning my son was on the Montgomery GI bill and changed to the post 9/11 GI bill later, when it became available.

            My son went to the VA hospital emergency room and told them he will not move out of their office and stay there for good if needed be, if they don't find out for him, why he didn't receive his benefits on time. After eight hours they went through the maze of internal telephone numbers at the VA central office that handles benefits to which no normal person has access to and they found out where the mistake was made. The error was made by a no-nothing VA "representative" at the school. Now, if my son hadn't family help to hold him above water for the last two to three month like many Veterans don't have, where do you think they end up?

            In addition the VA representative told him that he HAD to take full time semester load of 12 classes to get any GI bill benefits (which was wrong information and my son couldn't find any information on the Web back when the post 9/11 GI bill was still new). Because of this full load he lost a part-time job and lost his housing, had to move several times and some nightmarish scenes developed.

            Well, I really don't want to get into that any further. We don't look back anymore. It's too infuriating and I don't want to let this get at me again.

            Sorry that you misunderstood my comments.

            •  I was very ill after having my second child (0+ / 0-)

              I could barely get out of bed. The no-nothing VA rep told me that I couldn't put my time on hold, due to this. By the time I got to a point where I understood what was wrong and had a treatment for it, the time had run out.

              So long and Thanks for all the Fish! It's 10 years later, and a lot of my credits are timed out now. So I would have to start over. Sometimes it makes me grit my teeth so hard, that I cannot believe they don't explode inside my head.

              I didn't have anyone to help me with my paperwork. And I was so ill, that I had just enough energy to care for an infant and a toddler.

              The irony is, babies don't come with a seabag. All that time of dealing with Gender policing, for defiantly joining the military and doing a man's job, and being punished and harassed for that. Get out, get married and have a couple of kids, and then get punished for that as well.

              Thanks VA/DOD you are super Swell.

              It takes everything I have within me, not to fill this box up with obscenities that refer to the VA for just this alone.

    •  It was no better in the days when our GIs (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoregon, OleHippieChick, operculum

      actually were "government issue".

      Veteran's conscripted into military service back in the day received no better treatment their wars...arguably worse.

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:19:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which is idiotic as well as unfair (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      UntimelyRippd, nolagrl

      Because the best soldiers are "citizen soldiers", who are and see themselves as a part of society as a whole, and not distinct from and having fewer rights than civilians, and essentially robots told to do what to think and do.

      It seems so quaint now that once upon a time officers were chosen by their troops, who voted for them, and the length of duty for most military members including officers was the duration of hostilities, whereupon most went back to their regular lives. Our current all-"volunteer", professional army is a danger to its members, the world, and democracy. I think it's an utter failure, beyond the small unit level, being a completely political organization.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:17:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  T&R (30+ / 0-)

    This on top of all the other toxins they were exposed to. Desert Storm vets are sort of like Korean/Atomic war vets, forgotten.

    Help me to be the best Wavy Gravy I can muster

    by BOHICA on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:57:30 AM PDT

  •  Larium is also given to Peace Corp volunteers. (21+ / 0-)

    I met a guy who had a psychotic episode while on the drug. (He tried to stab his roommate who he thought was an evil entity.) Thankfully, he had no lasting injury and stayed with his roommate for the duration of their stint. There are contributors to the site who were in the Peace Corp, took Larium and were pretty dismissive of complaints. I think it is reasonable to assume that for some people, Larium is a potential killer.

    It's being recognized, at least among volunteers:Lariam and Peace Corps

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:43:11 AM PDT

  •  Medications & More Affect the Brain (22+ / 0-)


    Researchers tie Gulf War illness to brain damage

    March 21, 2013 -  The researchers suspect the damage came from environmental factors. Other researchers have found that as many as 100,000 troops were exposed to Sarin gas when the U.S. Air Force bombed an Iraqi munitions plant, and other researchers have found a connection between the symptoms and the ACHL-inhibitors found in nerve agents, the anti-nerve-agent pills servicemembers took, and the industrial-strength bug spray troops used on their clothing and skin.
    snip

    The researchers themselves said they've been surprised by how little attention this group of veterans has received.

    "If 30% of Congress got sick, or 30% of Manhattan got sick, there would have been an outcry," Baraniuk said.  read more>>>

    The above "they've been surprised by how little attention this group of veterans has received" doesn't surprise in the least, been watching it happen since being in the service and at that time not only related to us Vietnam Vets but those who served in Korea as well as starting in relation to WWII veterans after they were fully supported in the initial first years after.

    And why, because the country turns it's back on the veterans after the conflicts they 'patriotically' cheer on and continue waving their flags, a few minutes of that patriotism is plenty for them, while Not Wanting to Sacrifice themselves. And they readily, including some veterans, follow the lead of their hired representatives and the corporate press, especially the political ideology that seek to privatize government for profit, in blaming the agencies, in these cases the Veterans Administration and even DoD military care. When the agencies are under the political ideology control they're right, nothing gets done, this past decade plus showed that up till the last four years, this whole administrations cabinet on board in helping the VA when they could, and the few years prior to  the dems controlled the congress and finally started trying to address what wasn't done as to just these two recent conflicts and long occupations.

    There's no outcry from those served, except when headlines hit and the outcry is blame on the agencies,, never collectively looking in the mirror at themselves, the whole country served whether you're for the wars of choice or fully oppose.

    Finally under the leadership that's been in they've been seeking more on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses and much much more in relation to the ignored by the country for All Us Veterans especially in theater veterans. Which by the way costs much much more to correct then if done much much sooner, like when soldiers and sailors are coming home from, and especially if the political will blocks those attempts. Now some are calling for Shinseki's head to roll and not their own. They also never compare the Vast services the VA is charged with, especially as to wars, to the similar and more problems found in the private sector, yet that private sector benefits from the findings of care etc. in relation to what comes from the veterans and military communities, for profit!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    "We are dealing with veterans, not procedure; with their problems, not ours."; General Omar Bradley, First Administrator of the Veterans Administration

    "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." - Abraham Lincoln

    It's Us, Our Responsibility, That Why We Hire Representatives and It's Their Jobs, Not Obstruction Nor Wanting Privatization in Turning Our Responsibilities Into a Corporation!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:59:30 AM PDT

    •  Footnote: On Gulf War Syndrome (12+ / 0-)


      There's one media voice, and veterans group, that constantly touts the countries failure to have a National Ticker Tape Parade in NYC for those who've served in Afghanistan, that invasion and occupation's missions abandoned years back and with great majority cheering, and Iraq. While mentioning and not getting the calls of many that we still have many serving in that abandoned main reason we sent our military into that region.

      Every time she does I write either on her blog replies to or send and e-mail, never yet to see a reply from, saying in short, "ask the Desert Storm troops how their NYC National Ticker Tape Parade worked for them and especially the thousands suffering from Gulf War Syndrome!", again never an answer!

      She almost got it the other night:

      US failing on promises to veterans

      Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

      Almost!!

      The country hasn't Sacrificed a dime to pay for these wars but especially, they've already started ignoring the veterans of, like with those from burnpit fires, the way underfunded VA is also looking into that, and much more, their Responsibility the VA. The congressional rubber stamping and thus rapidly rising deficits started Before 9/11, and continued even with the rubber stamped no bid contracts wars of choice on other issues.

      From the Costs of War Project: Because the Iraq war appropriations for FY2003 FY2013 were not funded with new taxes, but by borrowing, it is important to keep in mind the interest costs already paid, and future interest costs. Iraq War appropriations for DOD and State were 54 percent of the interest costs. If one were to include Iraq's share of cumulative interest through 2053, those costs could be more than $3.9 trillion.

      "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

      by jimstaro on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:20:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well said ... (9+ / 0-)
      yet that private sector benefits from the findings of care etc. in relation to what comes from the veterans and military communities, for profit!!
      That is very true. And it goes not unnoticed by many veterans and is one of the reasons why some veterans refuse the care they could get outside of the VA services, if they had the money to pay for them in the beginning. Yet the services provided for Vets inside the VA doesn't meet the needs of the Veterans sufficiently.

      They are disgusted by the profit motive that can be observed by the huge amount of "therapy" that is offered in form of "do get your pills and come back when you need more" in outpatient VA centers or by "listen to this music in your car and try meditation" at the lovely amount of up to $ 250 per private counselling sessions. As most of the Veterans don't have jobs that provide them health insurance beyond the VA health benefits of the VA, there is very little that family members can do about the situation.

      I wonder what my son has taken in preparation for his deployment to Iraq in 2003 and before that for Panama and later for Korea.

      I remember he told me in 2002 that there were issues among the enlisted servicemen with certain drugs they didn't want to take. He told me many tried to "pretend" to take the medication but did not swallow the pills. I can't figure out how to know what kind of medication they were forced to take and he doesn't remember what it was either. Nor is it clear to me, if he was among those who were successfully pretending to take the medication or not.

      I think he was more than confused and scared about the whole experience of how they were prepared for their Iraq deployment months and months before it was known to the outside and what they were allowed to talk about and what not. I just would like to know if they still used this drug in the preparation for the second Iraq war.

      The only thing I can see is that some of his symptoms are "not to explain" with the general set of analytic tools by therapists, I believe. As well it is very difficult to know if how and how much of a slight brain damage may have occurred during his combat exposure in Iraq. The only thing I know and I know my son better than anybody else, that some of his symptoms have clearly NOT been present before he went into the military.

      As my son directly after his separation from the military ran away to Hawaii "to fight for his dreams" after some short time living in my household, I didn't realize any of his "symptoms" until three years later, when he returned for a while to my household. He later left again and even more clearly when he much later returned to me again.

      I wouldn't be able to discuss with him, because his reactions can be outside a range of "reasonable analysis" of what is happening to him. And we try to go through the days and manage our daily life.

      Is there any way to find out from his medical records the military has, what kind of medication he has been given in the first two years of his enlistment? It's such a mess all of it.

      •  Tell ya the truth (7+ / 0-)
        Is there any way to find out from his medical records the military has, what kind of medication he has been given in the first two years of his enlistment? It's such a mess all of it.
        Possibly, but it also could be be what he was given and what he was self medicating, or over the counter for colds etc., with then and after. What we put in our systems much stays there or changes the system. I start pulling hair when the blame game goes on, especially in the politics from hearings and mostly by those with so called conservative ideologies that have long time wants to privatize the peoples responsibility, for private of their like minded private sector mentors. Never comparing to everything that goes on in the private sector, as I say above, that have similar tasks related to what government agencies are tasked to do and supposed to be fully funded by those who are served or those who use or those who's use benefits them, that's what a government is.

        I do know that all the buildings and houses I've been a part of for years, if they aren't fully funded to be built right, and corners aren't cut to save a buck, it costs tons in extra costs to maintain as well as down the road tearing apart and rebuilding what wasn't done right to begin with and if built right it actually saves money in just taking care of regular maintenance and upgrades that come along later specifically for just that but in the newer.

        If fully funded the VA would be more modernized and up to date already to be able to quickly look back at what was given your son and compare to others as well as tell him how that and what he might be doing after could be effecting, they'd already have had the research on others or compiling same to reach conclusions sooner!

        "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

        by jimstaro on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:05:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  right on ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jimstaro

          just to add a little more personal thingy here. I am glad that my son does not self-medicate with any drugs or over the counter medication, aside from aspirin and cough medicine. Even that he completely replaced with teas that fight flues and cough with natural ingredients.

          His main self-therapeutic "medicine" is playing music. When he got some good counselling by one of his trusted therapists in Hawaii in the very beginning (I didn't know much about that either), he was given some stuff he was supposed to take.

          He stopped it after a while because it had so many side effects he couldn't stand it. He was way calmer with the drug, but also way too sleepy. Once the drug stopped having that effect, he basically went more or less more irritable and ballistic than not having taken the drug to begin with. He then refused to take it. That's several years ago. Nowadays he doesn't take anything and it works as well.

      •  That's because Vets are guinea pigs (12+ / 0-)

        and always have been, just like A/D soldiers.

        Imagine having PTSD, going to the VA, and the VA puts you on a anti-smoking program that gives you something like Chantix?

        WARNING: SERIOUS NEUROPSYCHIATRIC EVENTS

        Serious neuropsychiatric events including, but not limited to, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide have been reported in patients taking Chantix. Some reported cases may have been complicated by the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in patients who stopped smoking. Depressed mood may be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Depression, rarely including suicidal ideation, has been reported in smokers undergoing a smoking cessation attempt without medication. However, some of these symptoms have occurred in patients taking Chantix who continued to smoke. http://www.drugs.com/...

        Talk about connecting the dots.

        With PTSD, depression, anxiety, vivid dreams, and even suicidal ideations are already issues. But lets double down and give these guys a drug that all but ensures one or more of those symptoms are intensified.

        M-O-R-O-N-S!

        This is but one example of why, many vets will not go to the VA until they are on their deathbed and simply cannot tell their loved ones NO!

        •  ... just shaking my head here in disbelief ... /nt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GreenMother, TheDuckManCometh
        •  The VA is where you go so they can (0+ / 0-)

          make sure you die quick.

          Joy shared is doubled. Pain shared is halved. Spider Robinson

          by nolagrl on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:31:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's so infuriating. Some people out there do get (0+ / 0-)

            good care at VAs, or so I have heard from them, so one has to ask--Why doesn't everyone get that quality of care and service?

            Is it the way they fill out their paperwork? Is it something flagged on their record?

            Or is it a total crap shoot?

            Do I need to Sing, "I ain't No Senator's Son"--is that what it takes?

            Read this and then get ready to kick a hole in a wall

            Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices have been ordered to immediately stop shredding documents after an investigation found some benefits claims and supporting documents among piles of papers waiting to be destroyed...Among the records found waiting to be shredded were applications for disability compensation, education benefits, home loans and pensions for low-income veterans, officials said.
            http://www.tampabay.com/...
            Through VA history, confidential claims papers have been found in some odd places: above ceiling tiles, inside closets, in curbside trash at a VA lawyer's home, and in one case at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

            "It's a corporate culture of disappearing records," Weidman said. "It's just generally a disdain for the individual veteran that needs to be changed."...Many critics point to one thing as the biggest incentive for workers to "lose" records: incentive bonuses to quickly resolve claims and improve their numbers.

            So is this still going on?

            When they give vets a whole year to resubmit lost paperwork, please keep in mind that just going to the VA or filing paperwork triggers some veterans, so that when it's lost or denied, that can send them into a spiral of despair. A lot of Vets end up homeless because they do not have access to treatment, they cannot hold down a job and have alienated their support systems, or simply used up non-va/military resources. So a year wouldn't be long enough for some.

            Symptoms don't always present immediately either. Causing other problems for veterans.

            These seem like little things, a veteran here or there, but like the foreclosure fraud, these are lives we are talking about. Claims and outcomes that can dramatically effect quality of life, not just for a veteran, but also for their families.  

            It's a big big deal. Because when our government doesn't keep it's promises to it's military men and women, they send these people out to become part of an underclass. Some of us joined the military to escape that, because we were fools that believed a contract meant something.

            Basically the way to ensure that the backlog is reduced for claims was to shred documents, misfile claims, and deny claims. I know that this administration has made fixing that backlog a priority and I am grateful for the sentiment, but I wonder how much of this is now cultural? This has been a repeating issue, for decades. So sending in new blood--will there be enough newly trained people to reform the dysfunction that is already in place?

            This was 2012 at a VA in NC

            The inspector general found veterans' claims files stacked nearly to the ceiling and in towering stacks of cardboard boxes. The Aug. 9 report, based on an onsite inspection conducted May 8-18, said the overflowing piles "created an unsafe workspace" for employees and "appeared to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the building."
            This was estimated to be 37,000 claims folders. 37,000 veterans--how many of those lives hung in the balance for health care, and desperately needed compensation to keep a roof over their head or over that of their family? In 2012--just one VA facility.  Similar conditions were reported in California.
          •  I doubt anyone goes to work at the VA, with that (0+ / 0-)

            in mind. As pissed as I am at the system, I simply cannot believe that. But I know that people are pressured. They must be, with stories like the ones I linked to below, being so prevalent.

            We are looking at a management issue, and a cultural issue. Dewey eyed newbie goes to work there, to "do some good" and ends up, buried under a literal ton of paperwork, with the bosses breathing down their backs.

            They are told to be fair, but fast, thorough but quick.

            Sorry--it's either one or the other. After decades of that, long time employees learn how to game the system, maybe even pass some ticks on to others, and voila--corruption.

            I bet that is 80 percent of it. And with the budge shortfalls and the privatization of everything, and all govt entities are a "business" now, there is even greater incentive to save save save! More pressure to deny.

            The only way to break this is to start paying attention to either signatures on paperwork/ or employee number stamps, or departments. Veterans have to talk to each other, and really stand up for each other.

            If there are depts working as a team to undue backlogs using illicit tactics, then the Vets need to form a coherent front and challenge that and shine a light on it every time it happens.

  •  Is this what they refer to as Army Strong? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH

    Shameless promotion is allowed. HousecallsHomeServices.com

    by PlanetTreasures on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:41:33 AM PDT

    •  More Like (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH, OldDragon, OleHippieChick

      Country reality 'support the troops', NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Why do the DoD and VA give medication, one they need to, but more importantly the country is drug induced and needs quickly what is produced and marketed as a cure all for whatever, then scream blood hell when for many of the drugs prove to be from the many cons of that marketing.

      I've been a part of building many medical buildings, strip malls dedicated for care, a few hospitals etc. and the parking lots start filling as we're just putting on the finishing touches with one or a few offices open and stay busy after. Those that make, watch their vaults fill up!!

      "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

      by jimstaro on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:16:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are lots of very dangerous (15+ / 0-)

    prescription medications out there, some of which are prescribed often. Often, drug-company funded studies (and drug-company funded doctors) don't tell the whole story.

    Thanks for the diary.

    All the best to your friend.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:49:25 AM PDT

    •  First thoughts (8+ / 0-)

      That hit me when reports come out about the VA and DoD, as to the care especially, is the blame game goes on, pointed directly at the agencies with no mention of the oh so profitable private sector.

      Why the VA and DoD, and on many issues as to the DoD the condemnation is correct as those issues are controlled by the highly profitable and highly corrupt private sector, is we loves war and now we loves 'support the troops' but we All Hate Paying For The Results Of That 'Loooove' and in today's world few have any direct connect to!

      Thankfully we always have individuals who get it and start orgs. to help, others join them and many are successful but have to fight each other for funding to continue that success, some are outright cons and get caught as being way too late, thanks to the politics and political friends. Many give to, many don't but say they do, many don't do anything but speak words and quickly move on. But those who serve don't serve just groups within the society, they serve the whole society!!!!

      "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

      by jimstaro on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 06:30:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is very tempting to assert that the (7+ / 0-)

    Department of Defense has never given a flying fuck about the casualties of war. It wouldn't be quite honest, though -- for example the DoD funds a lot of research on things like tissue regeneration, spinal and brain injuries, prosthetics, and so on.

    Nonetheless, it is clear that this is a flying fuck given in the abstract. The actual individuals, and even the statistical agglomeration of those individuals into a class of veterans representing both a cost of war, and a need for remediation -- no, no, the DoD wants nothing at all to do with that. For darn sure, the DoD doesn't want those costs to ever be accounted for, and assigned to the DoD budget when people calculate how much our nation spends on its military adventuring.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:03:12 AM PDT

    •  And they profit from those studies. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nolagrl

      Do they not?

      So basically the veterans are the test subjects, and if it works, or if the procedure can be perfected, then its passed on to the civilian populace. Drugs too.

      •  No, like NIH funding that research (0+ / 0-)

        is done mainly through grants awarded mostly to academia.

        Thus, any discoveries can be commercialized the usual way for federally-funded research.

        The problem here is that if somebody is going to suffer a traumatic head injury (or many other battlefield injuries), there's not really much one can do to mitigate the damage with or without research being done.

        •  I don't buy that for a second (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mimi
          The problem here is that if somebody is going to suffer a traumatic head injury (or many other battlefield injuries), there's not really much one can do to mitigate the damage with or without research being done.
          The fact of the matter is, that people ignore this crap, and pretend we are all cartoons and you can drop pianos on our heads, and laugh about it, because there's no real harm done.

          The same with PTSD.

          The reason that real research isn't done in a timely or meaningful fashion is because then the VA/ Govt has to--HAS TO acknowledge that these are chronic, life changing injuries that require medical and monetary compensation as per Contract.

          In 1991, there were congressional hearings in which the experimenation on Active Duty people without their knowledge or consent was finally outlawed. But it didn't really take.

          Just look at what happened to the Gulf War Vets who refused Anthrax vaccines based on their experimental status.

          Their careers were affected, some ended as if refusing an experimental vaccine were a sign of disloyalty, and not common sense given the experimental nature of the vaccines and the known side effects.

          http://articles.baltimoresun.com/...

           This happened again and again in Australia and Canada. I saw mention that it happened even in Israel. Notices that the later rounds of vaccines had been "improved." So that makes the first round of recipients, Guinea Pigs.
          http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/...

          And Someone has to profit from the production and distribution of the first vaccine and all improvements after the fact.

          Are the soldiers affected compensated in any extra way for risking their lives for medical experiments? No. They are lucky if the VA doesn't throw their records out and deny them compensation while calling them a liar or some such.

          The fact is, that a military force offers an irresitable sample of healthy subjects for mass experiments and observations. And they cannot quit. Which makes them especially vulnerable to unethical medical treatments. They are contractually obligated to remain, otherwise they go to jail.

          "Army regulations allow soldiers to be given vaccinations as required for mission readiness," said Elaine Kanellis, an Army spokeswoman. "It's certainly possible that a soldier can be ordered to take a shot. If they refuse the order, they can face disciplinary action."
          Even if things have gotten nominally better in the last 20 years, we are still talking THOUSANDS of veterans and some active duty folk who could be adversely affected by these unethical medical behaviors that often hide behind the Feres Doctrine, as if that would excuse what is happening.

          Creating new drugs and vaccines, improving on older ones means experiments, and the military is the perfect place to find a ready made test population. One that cannot run away, cannot sue, cannot do anything.

          When you sign up to serve the military, there is nothing in that recruitment material that says you might sign up to be a medical test subject.

          We always hope that doctors only try experimental stuff during desperate times. No one tells you that they might stick a needle in you that might steal your health during the prime of your life.

          Someone makes money off of that and it sure as hell, isn't  the veterans.

          •  Yes, I really mean that (0+ / 0-)

            The over-riding problem is not the military's (many times obtuse, to be sure) attempts to protect the troops, it is our idiotic wars that put them in harm's way in the first place that are to blame.

            Really, if they're sent to a locale where they're almost certain (or let's say even 25% certain) to contract a terrible, contagious disease and there was an unproven, but possibly effective, vaccine available that was thought to  have serious side effects in 1 out of 1,000 people - if you were in charge would you give it to the troops or not?

            Based on statistics, you would.

  •  A drug that turns soldiers into psychotic... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, OldDragon

    ...killing machines. If you are Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, what's not to like?

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by expatjourno on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:51:43 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for the spotlight on this. (8+ / 0-)

    Some diaries are so disturbing in their content, the only thing I can think to post is just that.  I hope it helps to know people are paying attention.

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 08:04:24 AM PDT

  •  The amount of pollutants this man and others (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, snoopydawg, wasatch, operculum

    were exposed to, on top of the drugs is mind boggling. All of these things are neurotoxins, this man, might as well be a survivor of an Alaskan Exxon Valdez Cleanup crew or a GOM Clean up crew, or a 9-11 First Responder.

    The burning oil, the overuse of pesticides, the vaccines and drugs given, all at once, low level exposure to nerve agents in some cases to boot. And that doesn't count all the toxic materials that vets come into contact with [sometimes daily] while performing basic maintenance on their gear.

    As usual our government wants all those young bodies to do their dirty work, but they don't want to protect them from needless toxins, or care for them after chronic exposure.

    You don't even have to be in a war zone to suffer this.

    •  As a disbled Vietnam veteran (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother

      who fought for disability five full years - all the way to the Veterans Appeals Court in Washington D.C. (with the help of a Pro Bono Attorney group), and who was granted 30% (now in appeal) which is a small monthly amount, I am astonished at the situation at VA Regional offices across the country.  I was told that I am 6,000 of 70,000 backlog at my Regional Office.  I was told that the VAebenefits website where veterans are supposed to see the status of their Claims/Appeals is not even updated when the backlog is so large - as it is now.  He said  "don't even go there."

      There was a point in 2010/2011 when the president and Secretary Shinseki issued new guidelines re PTSD/MST - ordering the VA to award disability if the record indicated.  They wanted the VA to stop fighting veterans over miniscule technical issues and base decisions on the record.  For a while, things got better.

      As of now, I have an Appeal and an Agent Orange Connected Claim in for IHD/CAD which is a presumed connection.  Should be quick and fairly easy.  Right?  Both have been in sixteen months.  The VA cannot tell me when they will be decided.

      It is a disaster and a mess and an insult to veterans from all wars - especially Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan - both grand lies - the same grand lie.  

      •  tommyfocus2003 I am so sorry that this is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tommyfocus2003

        happening to you.

        I honestly think its time to start naming names. When cases get submitted and get stuck, it's time to start naming names and departments. Perhaps a pattern will emerge or connections will be fleshed out.

        Because it happens so often, I have difficulty believing after all these years that's simply due to incompetence.

        I hope you win your appeal. 30 percent is like severe hearing loss or something. Exposure to Agent Orange causes all sorts of serious, chronic conditions, not the least of which is Type II Diabetes. It destroys these soldiers from the inside out. Just like the toxins from the smoke pits are, and the pesticide overuse, and who knows what else.

        They are so incredibly strong, we all are, that sometimes it takes a few years to run us completely down. We just keep going because it's all that we know how to do, until you just physically cannot go on any longer.

        •  Thank you, GreenMother (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GreenMother

          It causes  me to wonder why everything is fought by the VA in a combative way - with any excuse or no excuse causing delay after delay after delay.  Something is horribly wrong.  I contacted Sen Bill Nelson and Rep Kathy Castor (both Democrats).  They sent me paperwork to complete to allow them to become involved.  Even that is another burden to fill out and add to the reams and reams of papers filling boxes at my house.  It becomes truly insane.  Years of not knowing.  

          Thank you for caring.  At one point there was supposed to have been a "Fast Track" process for Agent Orange Claims.  I was told I missed "the deadline & it is over."  I was then told that there really was never a Fast Track process for Vietnam veterans, according to a disgruntled VA employee.  

          It is a complete mess.

  •  Thanks for the diary. (0+ / 0-)

    Too many in this country feel the Constitution should include the 2nd Amendment. And nothing else.

    by blueoregon on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:41:38 AM PDT

  •  And yet the VA counsels against... (5+ / 0-)

    medical marijuana...

    Yeah, the only thing that actually helped with my PTSD.  4 months of using Indica when flashbacks hit, and they actually... went away.  And I stopped needing to smoke

    The drugs the military have given me for my mind never worked.  If anything they made me worse.  

    And I was apparently supposed to take them for life.

    Somebody's making money.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:47:08 AM PDT

    •  Amen. (0+ / 0-)

      Keeps the demons quiet.

      The chemicals do help, but I used my retiree tricare to go to an understanding civilian doctor.  Who isn't judgmental.

      Joy shared is doubled. Pain shared is halved. Spider Robinson

      by nolagrl on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:28:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Apologies to all the vets and their families (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg, OleHippieChick, boophus

    out there, but I'm increasingly of the belief that you have to either be insane, an idiot, or truly desperate, to join today's military.

    For one thing, we haven't had any real enemies warranting even 20% of our military structure and personnel in decades. Al Qaida and its ilk all put together ain't that. 9/11 happened because of incompetence, indifference and politics, not a lack of a military and related security services capable of preventing it. Nor have the military misadventures of the past 11+ years made us safer. If anything they've almost certainly made us less safe, with the likely inevitable blowback still in the future. And China, N Korea, Iran and Russia  put together don't represent real, top-tier enemies on the level of a USSR.

    For another, although with these latest dumb wars apparently drawing down the danger has been lessened, being in the US military tends to be hazardous for one's health, if not directly through combat, then indirectly through the inherent dangers of serving in the military, such as being exposed to depleted uranium and other toxic substances, target practice, drilling, training and exercises, operating defective and dangerous equipment made by corrupt war profiteers, etc., and of course the psychological stress of being in the military.

    But most of all, because the military views and treats its service members like shit, between the low pay and lousy benefits, multiple tours in hostile regions away from family, and of course the horrible way it treats its vets, especially its wounded ones, with years-long wait periods for crappy medical care. Once it's used its members up, it spits them out to fend for themselves.

    But hey, politicians love and "support" our troops, so it's all good, right?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:12:41 AM PDT

    •  It's true. The hypocrisy is staggering, (0+ / 0-)

      and the passed-down knowledge about how the govt treats their ex-forces should be like poison to anyone considering joining. Some people have nothing else.

      "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes
      No representation without taxation. Rich and don't pay? Shut up.
      Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

      by OleHippieChick on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:40:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget shafting us on our retiree pay (0+ / 0-)

      It's been chained for 20 years.  It used to pay the bills, now it doesn't pay for the utilities. Because it has never matched COLA.  
      We lose 1% a year. Compound interest.

      Joy shared is doubled. Pain shared is halved. Spider Robinson

      by nolagrl on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:30:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Larium gave me nightmares in Southeast Asia. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    I would wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night with inexplicable feelings of fear.  My wife had a similar reaction.  It was so unpleasant that we decided to stop taking Larium altogether; we were willing to get malaria instead.

    Legalized corruption is destroying our democracy.

    by geodemographics on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:40:59 AM PDT

  •  I have not been in Iraq (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mimi

    but I have lived in the Gulf since 1982.  I have never once taken an antimalarial drug, but I have been bitten by mosquitoes more times than I can count. And I've traveled in all six of the Gulf states as well as much of the Levant (Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, to be precise), but I have never contracted malaria nor do I know anyone else who has who has lived here for lengthy periods of time.  This tells me that this drug was wholly unnecessary.  There is virtually no malaria here, and hasn't been for many decades.  Unfortunately, Americans -- including the military -- are so risk-averse that they would prefer to take a drug proven to be dangerous than to take a very small risk of contracting something nasty.  All in all, it would seem the risk of contracting malaria would have been a much better chance  to take than taking the blasted pills.  In my view, these were wholly preventable tragedies.  

    -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

    by GulfExpat on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 01:08:50 PM PDT

    •  yes, I wondered about that too, back then, (0+ / 0-)

      why would you need to take heavy anti-malaria medication in countries that have extremely dry heat like Iraq, Kuweit, Saudi Arabia etc.

      •  If you go back to roughly 1975 and before (0+ / 0-)

        here in Oman, there were some coastal areas where malaria was a problem.  For example, the province of Dhofar, which makes up about a quarter of the country down in the southwest bordering Yemen, is on the northeastern edge of the East  African monsoon, so for roughly six months the climate is pretty tropical.  There, you did have problems with malaria and, most likely, yellow fever (I've never actually heard of it there, but I have my suspicions.).  There are also pockets of mangrove swamps up here near Muscat, which also were problems back a few decades.  However, once Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the current monarch, ousted his xenophobic father in 1970, health conditions and public sanitation improved very, very quickly.  

        This was a remarkable feat considering that back then there was no electrical grid, one hospital, no running water supply,  only 6 kms of paved roads, and one tiny airport that was barely able to accommodate a DC-3.  I mean, it was primitive.  The only people who had electrical power were wealthy merchants and members of the royal family who had their own generators for their houses.  As for transportation, the most efficient means was by sea in small ferries along the coast.  If you had to go inland, you either walked or rode a camel.  It used to take two weeks to go from Muscat to Nizwa, which is only about a hundred miles away.  Now, with four-lane highways, I can drive it in under an hour and a half -- and I'm dawdling along.  The locals make it in 45 minutes...    

        -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

        by GulfExpat on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:27:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  for me the worst part of this story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Riis, mimi

    is the availability of another antimalarial drug, much safer and more effective, that had the misfortune of having been developed by Chinese researchers pretty much during the time of the war in Vietnam.  It took many years for word of this drug, derived from traditional chinese herbal medicines, to arrive in the west, due in no small measure to the distrust of the establishment in China with respect to the west, in particular the WHO.  

    When the drug was finally introduced and understood to be the most effective and fastest approach to clearing parasites from infected individuals, it was still recommended that other drugs be given alongside - can't give away all those profits you know.

    The full story of Artemisinin is no small part of the story of mefloquine.

    Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy -- Abraham J. Heschel

    by jotter on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 01:33:58 PM PDT

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