Troops to Be Checked for Chemical Exposure in Iraq
30 October, 2014
The Pentagon will offer medical examinations and long-term health monitoring to service members and veterans who were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, the Army and Navy said in separate statements this week, as part of a review of how the military handled encounters with thousands of abandoned chemical munitions during the American occupation.
The review was ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in response to an investigation by The New York Times of how troops who were exposed to nerve and mustard agents were treated by the military's medical and awards systems. The report found that while the United States had gone to war looking for an active weapons of mass destruction program, troops instead quietly found and suffered from the remnants of the long abandoned arsenal built by Saddam Hussein with help from the West.
Since that article was published on Oct. 15, detailing several instances of exposure that the military kept secret in some cases for nearly a decade, more veterans and active-duty service members have come forward with their own accounts of exposure and inadequate treatment. To date, neither the Pentagon nor any of the services have released a full list of chemical weapons recoveries and exposures.