Laka Foundation, May 1999
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The thoughts of the first British Gulf War Veteran to be tested for, and found to be poisoned with depleted uranium.
By Ray Bristow
On learning that I had tested positive for depleted uranium not only was I devastated but my wife and family too, it was like having a real smack on the chin. Quite naturally I imagined all sorts of cancers etc. developing; I have seen some horrendous carcinomas in the 20 years that I have worked in Operating Theatres as a Technician.
After the initial shock, it sank in, and I was horrified at what has actually happened. To some it up; the Coalition Forces stood shoulder to shoulder against a tyrannical regime, a regime that we were aware had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction together with the knowledge that not only had those weapons previously been used, but used against their own people. A committee of the United Nations has already declared that depleted uranium is a weapon of mass destruction.
The British and American Forces were the only forces during the Persian Gulf War to use depleted uranium to increase the effectiveness of their armour piercing shells. This has not only left a terrible legacy of cancers with the Iraqi casualties who survived conventional wounds. The contamination of thousands of our own troops with depleted uranium must make this the Greatest Friendly Fire incident in the history of warfare. It has also left a terrible legacy much worse than any land mine for the civilian population.
It is an outrageous scandal that depleted uranium was ever used, it was not necessary, it was over-kill, and was not worth the cost to the Soldiers Health. I cannot in any way accept that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would not have been aware of the
consequences following the use of depleted uranium. In my eyes this puts the British and American Governments in the same league as the regime we were sent to fight, one that is willing to use a weapon of Mass Destruction that has serious heath consequences against their own people and for what? To stabilise the price of oil, that's what! Just what kind of society is Britain? I don't know anymore.
Veterans now require the Medical Practitioners of the National Health Service to take their illnesses seriously and not to discount everything unknown as psychological. Veterans are being denied the health care to which they are entitled because Medical Practitioners are being deliberately misled and having vital information withheld by the MoD.
It is about time that those responsible for this continuing outrage in the MoD are held accountable and the Gulf Veterans Illness Unit is run by civilians and overseen by Professor Malcolm Hooper, one of the few people Gulf Veterans trust. I would also like to see that both the MoD and the War Pensions Agency stop the deliberate bullying of ill veterans and ensure that they receive their full pension entitlements. Also an apology from the MoD, DoD, British and American governments wouldn't come a miss either.
Raymond Bristow, Former Warrant Officer, 1st Field Surgical Team, 32 Field Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps, Saudi Arabia, January to March 1991.
Contact: National Gulf Veterans & Families Association; 4, Maspin Close, Kingswood, Kingston upon Hull HU7 3EF, United Kingdom
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