On March 27, 2007 a MS. ELLEN EMBREY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR HEALTH AFFAIRS/ FORCE HEALTH PROTECTION & READINESS gave written testimony to Senate Veterans Affairs Committee about the veterans used in the human experiments at Edgewood Arsenal from 1955 thru 1975. I expect DOD officials to give "honest" facts to Senators, but this statement is false on many points of her testimony. I don't know who was responsible for getting her the information she gave, but whomever it was, the facts are wrong. I know this because I am one of the 7120 enlisted men used in this program.
I have been lied to, lied about, given many false statements about my role in these experiments. Senator Larry Craig the past Chairman of the Senate VA Committee was lied to specifically about my case, by Renee Szybala, Director of Compensation and Pensions of the VA in October 2005.
After 4 years of being ignored by the VA Regional Office in Columbia South Carolina, and writing to President Bush and Vice President Cheney and Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and not getting anywhere. I wrote the Chairman of the Senate VA Committe Senator Larry Craig, he forwarded my letter to the Secretary of the VA and asked for a response. In October 2005 I received from Renee Szybala a letter and I assume Senator Craig received the same letter, that my records at the Columbia VARO, showed that yes I had been briefly assigned to the "medical research unit" at Edgewood Arsenal but that I was sent home on 10 July 1974 before any of the experiments had begun. Therefore none of my current medical problems could possibly be related to the Edgewood Arsenal Cold War http://www1.va.gov/vhi/docs/CBR_www.pdf
" experiments shown on pages 16 - 20 and that she hoped that this cleared the matter up for me.
I then wrote Senator Craig a thank you letter for finally getting the VA to ackowledge my claim for medical conditions related to Edgewood, but that whomever told her my records showed that I was sent home on 10 July 1974, was mistaken, as my records plainly show that I arrived on 25 June 1974, was hospitalized from 3 - 10 July 1974 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and was then sent back to Edgewood Arsenal where I remained in the "medical research unit" until 22 August 1974, when after completion of the TDY assignment I and the ten other men from Fort Lewis, were all returned to our units at the 9th Infantry Division. I sent his office copies of the inprocessing paperwork and the outprocessing paperwork.
On October 6th 2005 I received from the VARO a letter stating they were opening an investigation into my claim for medical problems related to chemical weapons and drug experiments at Edgewood Arsenal in 1974. They asked me for the unit I was assigned to the dates, and what chemicals or drugs I was exposed to. I told them there was only one unit on Edgewood Arsenal, the whole base existed for the purpose of human experimentation, and was under one command, the chemical weapons and exposure amounts were not known to the soldiers used in the tests not were we ever told what kind of drugs or how much they were exposing us to. They had everyone sign consent forms the day we arrived on Edgewood Arsenal, which gave them permission to do the experiments for the next 60 days. Looking back we all gave consent, but none of ever really had "informed consent" which human experimentation requires by law.
DoD and VA have collaborated on a number of recent projects related to occupational and environmental exposures. Projects related to chemical warfare agents and depleted uranium are two examples. DoD undertook a wide-ranging initiative to identify all exposures to chemical and biological agents from World War II to the present. To date, DoD has provided more than 19,000 names of test participants to VA. As part of this effort, DoD declassified the medically-relevant information from test records and identified the records of approximately 6,700 soldiers who were involved in testing of chemical agents, placebos, and/or pharmaceuticals in Edgewood, MD, during the period of 1955-75. DoD provided the names of these individuals, the dates of the tests, and the types of exposures to VA. VA and DoD collaborated on writing a letter to veterans to explain the history of the testing program and to provide information about the availability of VA healthcare. VA started mailing notification letters in June 2006.
The problem with MS. Embrey's statement to the committee is the numbers of men notified and the dates are false, she claims that 6700 men were notified starting in June 2006, the first veterans were notified in September 2006, and they only notified 70 men by September 30 2006. I know because I was informed by the office of DHSD in the Pentagon, the office handling the notifications to the VA. After I called the DHSD office I was contacted the next day by a VA emplyee in Admiral Daniel Coopers office who arranged for myself and Larry Meirow to get our letters from the VA.
It is impossible to notify all 6700 men or 7120 men depending on which government document is mentioning the numbers this document http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3795/4913/5842.aspx shows they could only find 4022 men still alive in FY 2000 when they gathered the data. 2098 men could not be found using IRS, VA or Social Security records, one can only presume that men aged 45-65 would either be paying taxes or collecting benefits it is doubtful that 2098 men moved overseas, so I assume that most of them are deceased. How could they notify 2098 men they couldn't find in 2000? Did they notify the surviving family members that they may be entitled to veterans benefits if the veterans had died due to causes that might be linked to the exposures at Edgewood?
The letter telling the Veteran Affairs doctors how to handle the veterans was not even published until 10 August 2006 http://www1.va.gov/environagents/docs/USHInfoLetterIL10-2006-010.pdf do you really believe they notified veterans before they even told their doctors how to handle the men when they came into the VA for help? It doesn't make sense. I also know first hand that it did not happen as MS. Embrey testified to.
I am sorry but after more than three decades of lies and being ignored by the VA and DOD I happen to feel the veterans and the families of the deceased veterans deserve at least the benefit of the doubt on medical problems that may be related to the exposures, given the fact that many of the experiments were done in double blinds, many of the men will never know what or how much they were exposed to. The data is still sealed and ongoing research is conducted on the data. Given the lies told over the past 52 years since the program started in 1955, it is really doubful the full truth will ever be known, the veterans and the families deserve all benefit of the doubt situations.
What you can do to help these veterans and their families is to send this copy of the diary to your Congressmen/women or Senators and ask them for action to get to the bottom of why DOD can lie to the Senate without fear of being held accountable, after three decades it is time for some truth, thank you Mike