MARCH 25, 2015 - The under secretary of the Army on Wednesday apologized for the military’s treatment of American service members exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and he announced new steps to provide medical support to those with lingering health effects and to recognize veterans who had been denied awards.
Under Secretary Brad R. Carson acknowledged that the military had not followed its own policies for caring for troops exposed to old and abandoned chemical munitions that had been scattered around Iraq, and he vowed improvement.
He also said that the Army had reversed a previous decision and approved a Purple Heart medal for a soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent, and that he expected more medals to be issued to other veterans after further review.
“To me, the scandal is that we had protocols in place and the medical community knew what they were, and yet we failed in some cases to implement this across the theater,” he said. “That was a mistake, and I apologize for that. I apologize for past actions and am going to fix it going forward.”
In a sign that steps were being taken, Mr. Carson said, the Army on Tuesday approved a Purple Heart for an explosive-ordnance disposal technician burned by sulfur mustard agent while dismantling a roadside bomb in 2007. The veteran, former Specialist Richard T. Beasley, had previously been denied the medal.
That standard did not conceive of the insurgents’ practice in Iraq of occasionally using old chemical shells in roadside bombs — essentially traps in which the chemical agents inside might be released by an unsuspecting soldier tasked with destroying the weapon or handling its broken remains.
Mr. Carson said the four services now agree that wounds caused by such makeshift bombs would qualify for the award. read more>>>
ProPublica and The Seattle Times Nov. 9, 2012 - Lost to History: Missing War Records Complicate Benefit Claims by Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans
"DeLara's case is part of a much larger problem that has plagued the U.S. military since the 1990 Gulf War: a failure to create and maintain the types of field records that have documented American conflicts since the Revolutionary War."