Effects of Mustard Gas On WW2 Veterans
One of the great tragedies of 20th century warfare was the introduction of chemical agents as a military weapon, primarily mustard gas. First employed by German forces in World War I, troops that survived initial exposure to these chemicals suffered burns, respiratory issues, and developed diseases such as cancer in disproportionate numbers. As the hero of the classic World War I autobiographical novel All Quiet On The Western Front explained, “We remember the awful sights in the hospital, the gas patients who, suffocating, cough up their burnt lungs in clots. Better to take your chances in the open rather than stay in the hollows and low places where the vapors settle.”Chemical agents as weapons were banned by the Geneva Protocol of 1925. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. military became concerned that Axis powers would begin employing mustard gas as a weapon. Despite the Geneva Protocol ban, both sides had been stockpiling this agent. While the U.S. military didn’t intend to use their stockpile as a weapon, they made an equally horrifying decision concerning it. In order to “gas-proof” uniforms and gear for the gas that Axis forces were assumed (incorrectly) to be unleashing, American soldier-“volunteers” were exposed in a series of secret experiments to this chemical. Even when these volunteers quickly began to develop health problems due to this exposure, they were “encouraged” to continue to participate. “Volunteers” were threatened with jail if they ever discussed their involvement in these experiments.Even worse, because of the classified nature of these experiments, the VA would not allow subjects to claim veterans benefits for the illness and injury that these studies caused. While Federal law ended these “voluntary” military medical experiments in 1969, for hundreds of WW2 veterans, the damage had been done. While no deaths were caused by initial gas exposure, many of the 3,900 soldiers who are believed to have participated in this project were hospitalized with serious respiratory, throat, and gum problems. These problems continued for these veterans for decades.
Today, these WW2 veterans can claim benefits for this involuntary service. However, these claims can be rejected, and WW2 veterans find attempting to file for them decades after the fact challenging and exhausting. This is why the services of a personal injury lawyer can be invaluable. These attorneys can conduct research, collect evidence, file claims and appeals, and attend hearings for these suffering veterans. Veteran who were forced to participate in such experiments should not hesitate to contact such an attorney, and put an end to their silence and suffering.