Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century.
1994 U.S. Senate report authored by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and published by U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller
During the last 50 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel have been involved in human experimentation and other intentional exposures conducted by the Department of Defense (DOD), often without a servicemember’s knowledge or consent. In some cases, soldiers who consented to serve as human subjects found themselves participating in experiments quite different from those described at the time they volunteered. For example, thousands of World War II veterans who originally volunteered to ‘test summer clothing’ in exchange for extra leave time, found themselves in gas chambers testing the effects of mustard gas and lewisite. Additionally, soldiers were sometimes ordered by commanding officers to “volunteer” to participate in research or face dire consequences. For example, several Persian Gulf War veterans interviewed by Committee staff reported that they were ordered to take experimental vaccines during Operation Desert Shield or face prison. The goals of many of the military experiments and exposures were very appropriate. For example, some experiments were intended to provide important information about how to protect U.S. troops from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons or other dangerous substances during wartime. In the Persian Gulf War, U.S. troops were intentionally exposed to an investigational vaccine that was intended to protect them against biological warfare, and they were given pyridostigmine bromide pills in an experimental protocol intended to protect them against chemical warfare.