Today is our 2,561st day in Iraq and our 3,089th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4385
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4246
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3922
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3526
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 157
Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 318
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,025
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 671
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,457
Journalists - Iraq: 338
Academics Killed - Iraq: 437
We find this morning's cost of war
passing through: $ 974, 448, 200, 000 . 00
We'll stay domestic today. I've recently run across a veteran's website that deals with something virtually unknown among the public...soldiers that were poisoned by their drinking water right here in the United States.
We'll start first with the story of Paul Buckley, USMC (Ret.)
, who served his country in the mid 1980s at Camp Lejeune...
BOSTON (WBZ) ―
A local marine has a fighting wish; to save other members of the military, not from war, but from water.
Paul Buckley of Hanover has multiple myeloma, a rare and incurable blood cancer. He's already lived a year longer than most with this disease, perhaps because he's a former marine. But it's because he's a former marine that he got the cancer in the first place.
"Whoever thought you just drank the water and it happened to you," wonders Buckley.
Back in 1985, Buckley was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He spent his final months of service there before coming home.
Five years ago, he married his wife, Sue, but just six months later he was in the hospital, diagnosed with stage four cancer.
The doctors told him it was from exposure to toxic chemicals.
"I never did any of that stuff, I had no risk factors for that," said Buckley.
It wasn't until Buckley's sister sent him an article about cancer rates among marines from Camp Lejeune that the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. Buckley remembered his barracks were right next to a fuel farm that was later found to have leaking tanks.
Buckley launched a four year battle with the government to declare his cancer "service related." This past week, he received a letter from the government stating just that. Buckley's wife Sue was shocked.
"In the back of my head I thought it's never going to happen," she said. "They're never going to say it, there's too much at stake, there were so many people there."
Buckley isn't alone.
Peter Devereaux of North Andover is one of dozens of former marines with breast cancer attributed to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Buckley, who is now in remission, hopes his case will help get benefits for all marines who served their country only to end up with cancer.
"There's no more saying it didn't happen," he said. "It did happen; you (the government) said it happened. You're admitting it."
The designation that Buckley's cancer is service related means he now qualifies for full disability benefits, like a monthly stipend and health insurance. And, despite his preexisting condition, he will also get life insurance to help his wife.
One of the links in the story led me to "The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten
, which is chock-full of resources about this issue. There is quite a story behind it, parts of which I'll excerpt below.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is currently studying the effects of toxic exposure upon former residents of Camp Lejeune. Two separate water distribution systems aboard Camp Lejeune were found to be contaminated, the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point water distribution systems. ATSDR has completed the water modeling for the Tarawa Terrace water distribution system and has determined the system was contaminated from June 1957 until 1 March 1987. The ATSDR water modeling for the Hadnot Point water distribution system is underway but has not been completed. Therefore, the beginning date of the contamination has not been determined for any of those areas that were historically served by the Hadnot Point water distribution system...
Historically, Midway Park, Berkeley Manor, and Paradise Point housing areas received their finished tap water from the Hadnot Point water system prior to 1972. After that date, these areas received their water from the Holcomb Boulevard water distribution system. Hospital Point and Hadnot Point (Main side) to include French creek received their finished water from the Hadnot Point water distribution system up until the contaminated wells were taken offline, contaminated water for these areas ceased in February of 1985. However, beginning 27 January 1985 through 4 February 1985, the Holcomb Boulevard water treatment plant was taken off line due to a generator fuel spill in the water system. Water was rerouted from the Hadnot Point water distribution system in order to supply water to Midway Park, Berkeley Manor, Paradise Point, and Watkins Village. The water furnished to these areas during the 9 day period was highly contaminated with VOCs.
Jerry's daughter Janey was one of 12,598 children conceived and or born aboard the base from 1968-1985 who are under study by ATSDR for adverse health effects from their exposure to the contaminated water. Janey was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 6 and died at the age of 9 from the disease. Jerry has been involved in uncovering the truth at Camp Lejeune ever since he discovered that he and his family were exposed to the chemicals at the base 12 years after Janey's death. The water provided by the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point distribution systems was highly contaminated with various chemicals, including the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) known as PCE (Tetrachloroethylene aka Perchloroethylene), TCE (Trichloroethylene), DCE (Dichloroethylene), Vinyl Chloride and BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene).These chemicals are either known or suspected human carcinogens. Many Marines, Sailors, their families and loyal civilian employees have been affected by the contamination in various ways including, but not limited to: liver cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, non Hodgkins lymphoma, liver disease, miscarriages, birth defects (cleft palate, heart defects, Choanal atresia, neural tube defects, low birth weight, and small for gestational age),etc. Unfortunately, many of these families still have not been notified by the USMC of the danger from their exposure. In 1987 Camp Lejeune was recommended for listing as a Superfund site on the National Priorities List (NPL) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Camp Lejeune was officially listed as a Superfund site in 1989.
While we'd all love to be able to blame Halliburton or KBR for this one, we probably can't. The ongoing issues are old enough to predate the mercenary/outsource era. Uncle Sam did the dirty work here. What that means, of course....there was a cover up.
The National Research Council released a controversial report in June that said science could not link polluted water at Camp Lejeune to illnesses suffered by thousands of residents who lived on the Marine Corps base. The NRC, an arm of the nonprofit National Academies of Science that often advises government agencies, said no further study would prove such a link. The Corps, under fire from veterans and family who say the water sickened them, sent news of the report to the 145,000 people on a health registry of former residents of the North Carolina base. But there was something the Marine Corps didn't reveal. It had quietly negotiated a $600,000 contract with the NRC in the months before the report's release, an agreement finalized on May 1. It called for the NRC to provide ongoing consultation on water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
Federal scientists and critics of the Marine Corps say the contract, obtained by the St. Petersburg Times on Friday, is a blatant conflict of interest, and some critics say it calls into question the accuracy of an NRC report that already has been criticized by some scientists. "They've beaten us to death with the NRC report and pulled the wool over everybody's eyes," said Mike Partain, a Tallahassee resident who was born at Camp Lejeune in 1968 and was later diagnosed with a rare breast cancer he thinks is linked to bad water. "The NRC report smelled rotten," he said, "and now we have a deal that smells even worse."
News of the contract is even causing anger at the usually staid Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the federal office spearheading health research at the base. The ATSDR says drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated for 30 years ending in 1987 by industrial solvents that are suspected carcinogens. The Marine Corps didn't tell the ATSDR about the contract either, documents show. "The direct funding of peer review by the agency responsible for contaminating the Camp Lejeune drinking water creates a perceived conflict of interest unacceptable to the community of veterans and their families exposed" to the water, wrote Thomas Sinks, a deputy director of the ATSDR, in a recent letter to the Corps and Navy.
A spokesman for the Corps, Capt. Brian Block, said the contract was part of its continuing relationship with the NRC and will aid the Corps' efforts to better understand the potential health effects of polluted water. The Corps refused to discuss charges that the contract is a conflict of interest and denies that it misled anyone about its existence. "This contract does not impact the Marine Corps willingness or ability to support the ATSDR's ongoing efforts," Block said in an e-mail. He said the deal only "proposed that (the NRC) provide us advice," Block said. Jennifer Walsh, a spokeswoman for the NRC, declined to comment about criticisms of the report or charges about a conflict of interest.
I've already linked one website, but here is another dedicated to this issue...please take some time to check this out.www.watersurvivors.com