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Edgewood Arsenal Veterans Come Forward with Chemical Testing Claims

Washington, DC: Complaints are surfacing from veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces in the 1960s, during the Vietnam war, that they were used as test subjects as part of a cold war chemical research program involving potentially toxic substances.

The veterans also claim they were not informed of what substances were used on them. As a result of the testing, many of the veterans who served between two and four months at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, suffer from chronic, debilitating illnesses.

According to a recent report by CNN.com "From 1955 to 1975, military researchers at Edgewood were using not only animals but human subjects to test a witches' brew of drugs and chemicals. They ranged from potentially lethal nerve gases like VX and sarin to incapacitating agents like BZ. The military also tested tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens like LSD."

The reports by CNN, which are based on information from now declassified army documents, cite experiences of veterans who have come forward with their own accounts, including that of Army Pvt. Tim Josephs.

Josephs was 18 in 1968 when he was sent to Edgewood, now known as the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, under the assumption he was there to test military equipment. He was subject to chemical testing almost as soon as he arrived on January 1, 1968. He was there for a two-month assignment.

"Sometimes it was an injection. Other times it was a pill," Josephs told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Josephs said he didn't know what drugs he was getting. "A lot of chemicals were referred to as agent one or agent two."

The number of "tests" Josephs underwent varied from week to week. Just days before his Edgewood duty ended, in February 1968, Josephs was hospitalized for days with Parkinson's-like tremors, symptoms he said have followed him on and off throughout his adult life. CNN

Josephs is not the only veteran to have come forward. As a result, at least one class action lawsuit has been filed against the Defense Department and Department of Veteran Affairs, with the hope of, at the very least, getting compensation for medical expenses as well as details of the chemicals that the soldiers were subjected to and any associated health effects.

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Last updated on Mar-14-12

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