2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 30 Oct 2003 19:15:02 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Pentagon ignored rules to check soldiers' health
Pentagon ignored rules to check soldiers' health
Probers to see if lapse affected Iraq force
By Robert Cohen
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Congress will investigate whether soldiers sent to Iraq
received mandatory health assessments, a concern raised by the
disclosure that the Pentagon widely ignored proper medical procedures
for those sent earlier to Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs
Committee, said yesterday the General Accounting Office uncovered a
"shocking" failure by the Department of Defense to follow the health
screening and immunization rules for active-duty soldiers deployed
overseas from 2001 through mid-2002.

He said this lapse may have been repeated for those sent to fight in
Iraq, and his committee requested a new, comprehensive probe by the GAO,
the investigation arm of Congress.

"The failure of DOD to faithfully implement their own health care
regulations for troops before and after deployment to Kosovo and
Afghanistan is completely unacceptable," the Mercer County-based
congressman said.

"We need to ensure such failures are no longer occurring and have asked
GAO to determine whether our servicemen and women now in Iraq were
properly screened before they arrived and whether they are being
properly cared for both during and after their service to our nation."

In a report released this month, the GAO warned the Pentagon's failure
to conduct health assessments for active-duty soldiers before deployment
and after returning home from the former Yugoslav province of Kosovo and
from Afghanistan could lead to a repeat of the Persian Gulf War

During the decade that followed the 1991 conflict, tens of thousands of
veterans described chronic illnesses that came to be generally known as
Gulf War syndrome. They attributed these illnesses to their military
service but faced great difficulty getting veterans' benefits because
they lacked pre-deployment and post-deployment health data to prove
their claims. In response, Congress enacted legislation in 1997 to
establish a system for assessing the medical condition of servicemen and
women before and after their deployment overseas.

The GAO said the Pentagon's failure to follow that requirement in the
Afghanistan and Kosovo deployments raises the possibility that
active-duty Army and Air Force service members with health problems were
improperly sent overseas.

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