An ongoing lawsuit filed in late 2010 is suddenly causing a stir nationwide. The lawsuit urges, among other things, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to take action to approve V.A. benefits for veterans who were stationed at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland during the 1960s. So far, the government has declined benefit coverage for vets from the base.
Now, they are appealing to the public as well. They are anticipating outrage on behalf of the American public. By now you are wondering: What happened at Edgewood all those years ago? The answer is human testing of nerve gas, LSD and other hallucinogens, incapacitating agents, tear gas, and other potential biological and chemical weapons. The veterans who were subject to experimentation were, apparently, misled into participation, threatened, and told that no harmful substances were being used.
According to the complaint filed in the Northern District of California, several thousands of veterans were experimented on at the Edgewood Arsenal for purposes including the creation and identification of substances to produce physical disablement. Allegedly, over half of the scientists recruited to perform these experiments were former members of the German Nazi Party. Apparently, the experiments were successful: many of the veterans who were subjected to these tests now suffer severe medical impairments and an array of diseases.
According to the complaint, the government has continued to refuse medical care and treatment to some of the personnel that were subjected to these experiments. Further, obtaining medical care in the private sector has proven difficult; many of the people who were subjected to these experiments still do not know or cannot remember all of what happened to them. Many of the substances and chemicals to which they were exposed were intentionally kept secret. In fact, according to the complaint, as the military and government agencies learned more of the potential harmful effects of the substances used, they made no attempt to contact or notify the individuals who would suffer the physical consequences of experimentation.
The struggle to obtain suitable medical care was further complicated by the fact that the personnel involved were all told never to discuss the nature of the experiments or their time at Edgewood. Many of the veterans were afraid of the repercussions for speaking to their physicians about their experiences.
Among the goals of the lawsuit is to obtain service-connected disability payments for the affected veterans. The VA has denied 97-99% of disability and death claims from Edgewood Arsenal personnel. Because a significant portion of my practice is dedicated to helping veterans receive the benefits due to them following their service defending the nation, I am shocked that the agencies controlling these issues seem to refuse to provide benefits to veterans of the Edgewood Arsenal. I always want to see eligible veterans receive their benefits, especially when medical care is as urgent as in some of these cases.
At this point, the lawsuit is scheduled for trial early next year. In the meantime, attorneys are attempting to exchange enough information to prove (or disprove) the allegations made about the experimentation that occurred throughout the Vietnam War era. As more light is shed on the case, it will be interesting to learn whether the affected vets are able to get the treatment they need.
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