Sunday, January 16, 2011

We were used as guinea-pigs

Two decades on, battle goes on over 'Gulf War Syndrome'

By Caroline Hawley and Stuart Hughes
BBC News:

Every week, Kerry Fuller counts out his medication into a plastic pill box.

He fills the compartments with the 20-30 tablets he takes each day for heart problems and severe pain in his muscles and joints.

Formerly a keen hill walker, Kerry now struggles to walk more than a few dozen metres from his home at Dudley in the West Midlands without stopping for breath. Some days, particularly in cold weather, he is forced to stay indoors because of crippling pain.

Twenty years ago this weekend, coalition forces began the air campaign to force Saddam Hussein's Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

As Operation Desert Storm got under way, Kerry Fuller was a senior aircraftman with the RAF Support Helicopter Force stationed at Al-Jubail in Saudi Arabia.

As part of his pre-war preparations he was given around a dozen vaccinations to protect him in the event that Saddam Hussein's forces used chemical or biological weapons. Within a week Kerry was taken to hospital with chronic fatigue.

He returned to active service a few days later but the bouts of ill-health recurred. He was in hospital again with chronic fatigue within a year of returning from the Gulf.

At the age of 40 he suffered a stroke, which has left him with a mild stammer.

Kerry Fuller believes his deployment to the Gulf caused what has come to be known as "Gulf War Syndrome".

"We were used as guinea-pigs, knowingly or unknowingly," he says.

"Going to war didn't bother me but I didn't bank on being poisoned by my own side.

"Now, a lot of us feel it would have been much better if we had been killed in action and hadn't come back at all." Read more>>

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