6| Living with Gulf War Syndrome (excerpt)

From our medical unit of 150 who went to the front, forty are sick, six have died from homicides, suicides, heart attacks and cancer. Washington told me I couldn't get tested for depleted uranium because I hadn't been hit by friendly fire.

Carol H. Picou

It has been six years now that we Gulf War veterans have been fighting for our health. The Vietnam Veterans took 22 years to bring out the issue of Agent Orange. This is an Agent Orange of the nineties for the Persian Gulf veterans. We need your help.

Before I get started, I would also like to thank my husband who is still with me after everything we've been through. I have a nine-year old boy who has been going through a lot since we came home from the Persian Gulf War.

I served my country willingly. I volunteered for patriotic reasons. I wanted to help, and joined the military. I became a drug and alcohol medical health counselor. I counseled Vietnam veterans.

I then changed my career to become a nurse. Because I had a little pull, I became a licensed practical nurse and was getting ready to get my commission. I spent five years in Germany, I went to Africa, I had many opportunities to travel, including to Korea. I spent seven years in foreign lands.

I was back in the United States after returning from Germany. I signed in on the first of August [1990] and I was alerted for the war on the second of August. I was deployed to the Persian Gulf War.

I went willingly. Unfortunately, during the Persian Gulf War the women weren't widely accepted over there and so the command decided the women would stay in the rear and the men would go forward. Our unit split. We had 300; 150 were going to the front and 150 were staying in the rear.

We were the foremost hospital going into Iraq, going into Basra, going into Kuwait. We had to make a jump. Everywhere there was a battle zone we would jump, take care of the wounded, the sick, and move on. Surprisingly when that war started, when the coalition ground forces started moving out, the Iraqi troops surrendered.

A lot of the Iraqis surrendered to us; we gave them every opportunity to surrender. Coalition planes dropped leaflets, troops raised chants to surrender, and the Iraqis surrendered willingly.

In Iraq though, as we drove on the back desert, into the desert, not even a highway, there was just a road that was created for us. There was ammunition lying everywhere, there were rounds lying everywhere, there were bunkers that were blown up, and we passed through this unprotected, our medical unit of 150. I was included as I was the next highest ranking female. Because seven men refused to go to the front, I had to take seven other women. We who went to the front are all sick. The men who stayed in the rear are perfectly healthy and they got awards. We got nothing.

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The full text of this chapter is available in the book, Metal of Dishonor. Link here for order information.

METAL OF DISHONOR TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

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