Monday, January 23, 2012

Depleted Uranium, Bobby Shilling, and Veteran's Rights

Several months ago, a woman named Kim Schisler wrote to me and asked for my help in making a very disturbing situation more public. It involves Depleted Uranium, a substance being used by the U. S. Military in armor, weapons, and ammunition. "My son died today - August 24, 2011. His name was Aaron Barnes. He was 26 (years old) with a wife and two young children. He died of a very rare and extremely aggressive cancer called Sacromatoid Renal Sarcoma. Aaron was a soldier, serving two tours of duty in Iraq. During his 26 months there, he was exposed daily to depleted uranium. This is believed to have caused his cancer and many others. Depleted Uranium is everywhere in Iraq and Afghanistan, leftover shrapnel from previous wars. Veterans of current wars are coming home and getting sick with rare diseases with much higher percentages than the general population." I looked into these allegations and found quite a bit of evidence to support these claims. While not directly radioactive in the sense of the elements we commonly associate with nuclear weapons, Depleted Uranium poses some unique and deadly health risks that could lead to many cancers and other issues for veterans who have been exposed. Of course, the Department of Defense and the Veteran's Administration are denying any culpability or liability for this exposure, claiming the exposure is not sufficient to cause such problems. Yet the scientific studies I read state there is a substantial risk, since the particulate contaminants are in the air, and therefore in the food and water these soldiers ingest. These particles, once in the system, tend to react with the residual radiation (like X-Rays or Gamma Rays) and can cause cumulative effects in the system. Like any claim, this is subject to debate and there are as many articles that proclaim the substance safe as their are that support my findings. Ms. Schisler continues to fight for the protection of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, with a campaign of letters to congressmen and senators, and others as well. She appealed to Rep. Bobby Schilling from Illinois, and this is the careful and thoughtful consideration he afforded her: "After months of phone calls, emails, and letters to Rep. Schilling, we finally received an answer. He sent a letter to my son thanking him for his service in the Armed Forces----my DEAD son. Followed by a bunch of crap on all the bills pertaining to veterans' rights that he voted on. I am beyond angry and disappointed. I feel like I've wasted the past five months." Perhaps the reason we are in a state of denial in this nation when it comes to Veteran's Rights is because of the insensitive and uncaring way our representatives respond to their needs. Perhaps they are uncaring and insensitive because, unlike many of their constituents, they have not served in any capacity other than to represent corporate interests instead of their constituents. Whatever the reason, the cause of Depleted Uranium exposure and treatment needs to be addressed. And it doesn't seem it will be a priority for Representative Schilling or his office. Frederick Smith.

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