by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume
I first wrote “And a Grateful Nation Says ‘It’s the Adjuvant, Stupid!’” and published it as a blog article in 2009. It ended up becoming a part of my book The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits. But since the book was published, there have been some new developments that all (especially other veterans) need to know about.
So what follows is copy and pasted from the book with an update added at the bottom.
Yours for freedom in our lifetimes – jtl, 419
“It’s the Adjuvant, Stupid!”
Gulf War Syndrome: Most memories fade with time but some don’t. I recall a night sometime during the month of September 1970. A plane load of Marines landed at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. It was purposefully, the wee hours of the morning, 2:00 maybe 3:00 AM. The anti-war demonstrators were less active at that time.
We, alone, lounged on our sea-bags in the dimly lit terminal until 9:00 AM when busses picked us up for the trip south to Separation Company, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Sometime during the course of the wait, I recall a Staff Sgt. gazing blankly off into space and saying, to no one in particular, “So this is how a grateful nation says, ‘thank you.”
An adjuvant is a chemical that is added to vaccines to reduce the amount of active ingredient (antigen) needed per dose by “turbo-charging” the immune system of the recipient. They help solve supply problems related to vaccines that need large numbers of doses manufactured quickly—they serve to stretch the supply.
It is documented that adjuvanted vaccines induce more pronounced side effects than ordinary vaccines. Adjuvants contain an oil based substance called “squalene” which, in a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Pathology , triggered “chronic, immune-mediated joint-specific inflammation” (also known as rheumatoid arthritis) in rats.
Squalene is native to the body. It is found in olive oil and can actually be ingested for its antioxidant properties. However, when injected, it incites the immune system to attack all the squalene in the body.
It has come to light that adjuvanted anthrax vaccine was secretly tested on soldiers during the Gulf War. The Department of Defense attempted to deny that squalene was an added contaminant in the vaccine. However, after the FDA discovered its presence in some lots of the product, the story has changed. Now it “does no harm.”
But, studies published in Experimental and Molecular Pathology , link the unapproved ingredient in experimental anthrax vaccines (squalene) to the debilitating autoimmune diseases suffered by countless Gulf War veterans. Collectively known as Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), the maladies include arthritis, fibromyalgia, lymphadenopathy, multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus to name only a few.
The evidence is statistically overwhelming. One of the studies (conducted by Tulane Medical School ) revealed that 95% of the GWS patients that were deployed had antibodies to squalene. In addition, one hundred percent of those that were immunized and did not deploy, but had the same symptoms as those who did, had the antibodies.
In the meantime, the government continues to do what it does best, lie. The Pentagon repeatedly promised full disclosure. Instead, the perfumed princes (aka the generals) claimed that fewer than 100 people were made seriously ill by the vaccine. Congress was never told about the more than 20,000 troops that were hospitalized after being vaccinated for anthrax between 1998 and 2000.
If the reader will recall in the Desert Storm diary, I emphasized my documentation of the Anthrax vaccination program that we were ordered to take and then ordered to not tell anyone we had had. That was in 1990-91.
By 1992-93, while I was still in the reserves, I had began to experience some joint stiffness. Already approaching 50 years old, I wrote it off as a part of the normal aging process and continued to work through and around the pain to maintain a top level of fitness. (At the age of 50, I could score 1st Class in the 18 year old category of the Marine Corps’ Physical Fitness Test.)
As the years passed, I would have “episodes” of extreme pain, usually in one wrist or shoulder. I would usually explain these away (to myself) as workout stress.
But then in April of 2009, while sitting in a comfortable chair, I was suddenly struck with the worst pain I have ever felt in my life—the kind that actually makes you nauseous and break out in a cold sweat. This time it was primarily centered in the right wrist.
I tried to self-treat but it got progressively worse. Finally, I succumbed and went to my family doctor who did a broad panel of blood work. I was diagnosed as having Rheumatoid Arthritis in June of 2009.
Due to the tons of burdensome government regulations, an incompetent medical services industry failed to connect me with a rheumatologist until October of 2009. Meantime it had moved into every joint in my body except the hips and (fortunately) the spine.
I am no stranger to pain—been shot twice, knifed twice, had my neck broke, had a leg broke and almost lost it to gangrene—but I had never felt anything like this in my life. I was crying like a little girl and seriously thinking about eating the old 357 magnum.
I overheard the rheumatologist tell an intern, “We are not sure of what it is, but we are treating it as though it is rheumatoid and that seems to be working.” Of course, as I indicated above, the government is maintaining that squalene “does no harm.”
Anthrax vaccine and Agent Orange make for an “interesting” cocktail. And, just as with “agent orange,” they will eventually come around to telling the truth—after most of us are dead.
And a grateful nation says “thank you,” how many times is it now?
Compensation or Pension Examination, Friday Aug 16, 2013
I had the required medical examination for “compensation or pension” on Aug 16, 2013 at the VA Center in Big Spring, TX.
Of course, the Doctor conducting the examination (Dr. Olson) denied (actually denied even knowing anything about) any of the evidence that has, for example, been presented in the American Journal of Pathology, Experimental and Molecular Pathology and studies conducted by Tulane Medical School.
Be that as it may, I left the examination more confused than ever. On the one hand, the examination did not go very well. Although I was not told outright, I left with the distinct impression that Dr. Olson’s “finding” was going to be that there is not a service connection.
But on the other hand, it might turn out pretty well for me. (Hang in there. It will take a while to set the stage for the punch line.)
I sincerely believe the problem originated with the terminology I used when I filled out the original claim form. The letter dated Dec 12, 2011 from the VA Regional office, says specifically, “We are working on your claim for: arthritis upper and lower extremities, auto-immune disorder related to anthrax contaminated with squalene and Gulf War Syndrome.
The real culprit there was the word “arthritis.” Bear with me; you will come to understand how important that is as we progress.
The Dr’s examination procedure was helter skelter—randomly jumping from one topic to another with no connectivity between topics. I tried multiple times to get him to allow me to just tell the story in a chronological order. Then, he could focus on the parts that concerned him. At first he just flat out refused. Finally, he said “OK, I’ll listen to your story.” So I started to tell it.
From the beginning he typed on his computer. At first I thought he was trying to transcribe what I was saying. But then, about every minute or so, he would interrupt with some unrelated question, For example: “Have you ever had high blood pressure?” or “Do you have a family history of prostate cancer?” And so forth. I finally just gave up and quit even trying. He never noticed that I didn’t finish. Had he listened, we might have uncovered the problem and achieved a different result.
I initially was scheduled to have my hands and lower back X-rayed. That was a mystery to me so I kept insisting that my lower back was never involved in the problem. He sent me back up to X-ray where they did elbows, shoulders, ankles, etc.
Somewhere along the line, he asked me if I had any “disability.” I asked how he defined “disability” and he responded with something that indicated he meant something actually physical and observable. In other words, the purpose of the X-rays was to find some kind of physical damage done to the joints by rheumatoid arthritis. That was a word that should have never been used but I did not realize why until after the examination was over.
His orders had come to him through the VA system—a chain that I had started by my unknowingly (and erroneously) using the word “arthritis” when I initially filed the claim. His orders were to examine me for evidence of arthritis and, as is typical of any government operation, were so rigid as to leave no room for him to practice his art of medicine.
Had the Doctor listened carefully (most people nowadays have the attention span of a fruit fly), here is what he would have heard and very likely what we would have figured out together.
Almost immediately after returning from Operation Desert Storm, I began to experience unusual pain that was mostly confined to the joints. However, due to its low intensity, intermittent and migratory nature (one week it would be the wrist, two weeks later it would be a knee, then a shoulder, etc.) I disregarded and attributed it to a combination of age and excessive exercise.
But over the years, the frequency and intensity steadily increased until finally in April of 2009 I had an “episode” that involved every joint in my body except the hips and the spine. The pain was of the intensity that elicited cold sweats and nausea. At that point I realized that the problem had to be more than age and excessive exercise and sought medical help.
A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was made by Kathy Duncan, PA (working under family doctor Jim Leucke) on 6-8-09. The sole basis for her opinion was the blood factor, Latex Turbid 77.7 H Limits 0.0 – 13.9. As a result, I have been thinking all the years since that I had “rheumatoid arthritis.” But, as it turns out, I may not.
At that time no treatment was offered by Duncan. An attempt was made to refer me to a rheumatologist but that fell through due to some sort of paperwork – administrative SNAFU at the Dr’s office. I literally fell through one of the large cracks in the health care system.
After enduring intense pain for several months, I made my first attempt to contact the Veteran’s Administration. I was set up with an appointment in Ft. Stockton, Texas on 10/8/09 with Dr Subodh Kumar Mallik. My association with Dr Mallik was very brief. He was not a rheumatologist nor was he an employee of the Veterans Administration (he was under contract with the VA). He did me no good but he did order another blood test on 10/8/09 when the RA-QN was 57.79 Ref <30. So by now, I am convinced that I do, in fact, have rheumatoid arthritis and always subsequently referred to it as such.
Finally, after this extended period of severe pain and delays, I was referred to Dr BK Khandelwal in early November 2009. At that time an extensive battery of X-rays were taken–neck, shoulders, hands, etc. I was told that the purpose of these X-rays was to serve as baseline data for monitoring any deterioration in the joints due to the illness and/or the side effects of the medication that Dr Khandelwal had prescribed (methotrexate). But, I never saw any of those X-rays, nor did I ever hear mention of them again. (They should be available to the VA from Dr. Khandelwal’s office because I signed a waiver permitting the VA to request my medical records from him.)
Sometime during the early months of my association with Dr. Khandelwal, I overheard him tell another medical person (who, I think, was an intern) in almost these exact words: “We are not sure of what it is but we are treating it as though it were rheumatoid arthritis and the treatment seems to be working.” At the time, I did not realize how significant those words might turn out to be. And indeed the “treatment” was “working.” The pain level had decreased substantially.
The treatment was continued with extensive blood monitoring every 8 weeks with methotrexate dosage levels being adjusted as indicated by the results of those blood exams. This continued up until December of 2012 when the monitoring came under the supervision of Dr. James Luecke.
Having previously given up due to frustration with the bureaucracy, I renewed my effort to file for service related disability compensation in late 2012/early 2013.
I was summoned to the VA Center in Big Spring, Texas for a “Compensation or Pension Examination” on 8/16/13. The examination that was conducted by Dr Kurt C Olson took most of the afternoon. It was quite lively and entertaining as we bounced all over the universe of ideas and opinions about what may or may not be wrong with me. And, incidentally, the blood test given revealed a RA-QN of 43.4 H Ref <= 30. So, as of the morning of 19 Aug, I still believed I had rheumatoid arthritis. By later that afternoon, I had been told that I did not.
The exam ended with no definite conclusion or consensus having been reached. The Dr indicated that he needed to “think about it.” In retrospect, we had a conclusion but the logic had evaded both of us.
Gulf War Veterans’ Medically Unexplained Illnesses.
Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I recalled having read something about “undiagnosed illnesses” so I researched it when I got home. Here is what I found:
The Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998, Public Law 105-277 authorized the VA to compensate Gulf War veterans for diagnosed or undiagnosed disabilities which are determined by VA regulation to warrant a presumption of service-connection based on a positive association with exposure to a toxic agent, environmental or wartime hazard, or preventive medication or vaccine associated with Gulf War service. This statute added section 1118 to Title 38, United States Code. (The emphasis is mine.)
Due to the nature of my job (as a road master), I probably had a greater than average exposure to multiple toxic agents, environmental and wartime hazards. The job required me to patrol the entire area of operations all the way from the port of Jubial, Saudai Arabia north to Kafji, west to Camp Kabrit and finally north into Kuwait City (which was the ultimate objective of the ground assault). This was a constant daily activity over the (approximately) five month period we were there.
I was through the burning oil fields multiple times, breathed the dust, fumes and gasses, was exposed to toxic chemicals (including pesticides) and depleted uranium along the roads leading into and out of Kuwait as much as anyone else and probably more than most.
I was also ordered to take (and took) “preventive medication” (in the form of a drug administered to protect troops against nerve gas). I was also ordered to take a “vaccine” for Anthrax and was ordered to NOT tell anybody I had it. I recall there being a flap over whether or not the inoculation would be recorded in the Marine’s health record. But, I do not recall the final outcome.
Quoting directly from the VA’s web site:
“A prominent condition affecting Gulf War Veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. (Emphasis mine.)
“VA refers to these illnesses as “chronic multi-symptom illness” and “undiagnosed illnesses.” We prefer not to use the term “Gulf War Syndrome” when referring to medically unexplained symptoms reported by Gulf War Veterans…Because symptoms vary widely. (Emphasis mine.)
Military service connection
“Gulf War Veterans who meet the criteria below do not need to prove a connection between their military service and illnesses in order to receive VA disability compensation. (Emphasis mine.)
“VA presumes certain chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause. These “presumptive” illnesses must have appeared during active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations or by December 31, 2016, and be at least 10 percent disabling. (Emphasis mine.) The statement “or by December 31, 2016 seems to be a very straight forward and simple to understand. It was taken directly from the VA’s web site. However, yesterday (8/19/13) afternoon I was told on the phone by a representative of the Texas Veterans Commission (who work as an advocate for Texas veterans in issues with the VA) that the claim had to be filed within one year of discharge. That is yet to be seen.
These illnesses include:
“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other conditions…Fibromyalgia… widespread muscle pain. Other symptoms may include insomnia, morning stiffness, headache, and memory problems. … (Emphasis mine.)
Undiagnosed illnesses… symptoms…may include but are not limited to: abnormal weight loss, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain, headache, menstrual disorders, neurological and psychological problems, skin conditions, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances. (Emphasis mine.)
End of Quote and returning to the examination as I remember it:
The Dr ordered a series of X-rays (I have copies) of the joints normally affected by RA–wrists, shoulders, ankles, etc. Upon examination of the radiologist’s results, the conversation went something like this:
Dr: The good news is that you do not have rheumatoid arthritis.
Me: Considering the consistently high blood factor level since Kathy Duncan’s original diagnosis, how can you say that?
Dr: The X-rays show no RA related type of damage. The damage shown is of the osteo variety.
Me: Could it be that the metotrexate treatment headed off the deterioration?
Dr: Well, maybe…but…You do not have rheumatoid arthritis in any of those joints.
Me: So, what is it that causes me such intense pain unless I’m medicated?
Dr: I don’t know!
Me: As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, I recall Dr. Khandawal telling an intern that “we are not sure of what it is but we are “treating it as though” it is rheumatoid arthritis and the treatment seems to be working.
Dr. Blank look, apparently not grasping the logic. (But neither did I right away even though it is of the simple, if A = B and B = C then A has to equal C variety.)
In other words, if it is not what I, over all these years, erroneously believed it to be and, if both the Drs (both the VA Dr. and the rheumatologist) do not know what it is, then it has to be a “medically unexplained illnesses.”
Furthermore, in addition to the intense rheumatoid-like joint pain, I suffer from:
- sleep disturbances (periodic insomnia at least one night per week and usually more),
- morning stiffness (constant),
- memory problems (constant),
- severe joint pain (controlled by medication but constant when un-medicated)
- fatigue (constant) and
- dizziness (periodic)
Furthermore, these (now) unexplained symptoms have existed for much longer than 6 months and certainly appeared long before December 31, 2016.
And finally, the condition is certainly more than 10 percent disabling. I had to quit my job because the stress associated with a hostile workplace environment aggravated the condition and I am not capable of the manual work required to run the small ranch I own.
Conclusion: Since I meet the all the VA’s required and necessary criteria, I do not need to prove a connection between my military service and the illnesses I suffer from in order to receive VA disability compensation.
The situation I find myself in is directly out of Alice in Wonderland’s government bullshit.
The VA doctor bases his diagnosis (UN-diagnosis) on X-rays. Civilian Drs base their diagnoses on blood factors. How does one go about reconciling the two?
How does one obtain a “diagnosis” of “no diagnosis?”
What are the chances that I will ever go anywhere but around in circles with this?
Meantime, great gratitude goes out to all of you who have tried so hard to help. Thank you all for sharing your “old family potent” and all other recommendations for foods and other forms of “voodoo.” It is all greatly appreciated.
I’ll keep you posted and please share this with any and all other veterans you may know who may (or may not) be suffering from the same or a similar thing.
The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits. by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume. Click here to buy the paperback version from the FlyoverPress aStore.
To purchase an autographed copy of the book Click Here