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Improving the Presumptive Disability Decision-Making Process for Veterans
cases, their participation in these experiments was not even acknowledged in their service records and was, in fact, officially denied for decades. Further, these men were ordered to keep their participation secret. They did so for nearly 50 years, in some cases despite serious, disabling diseases that they believed were caused by their exposures. There can be no question that some veterans, who served our country with honor and at great personal cost were mistreated twice—first, in the secret testing and second, by the official denials that lasted for decades. They deserve recognition.
Second, the committee believes that any future military research with human subjects should be conducted according to publicly established ethical principles similar to those that apply to civilian research. The Department of Defense should consider including civilian medical experts in reviews of all proposed military research protocols involving human subjects. As was shown in the examination and evaluation by the Department of the Army Inspector General’s report of the military drug and chemical testing programs from 1950 to 1975 … a climate of secrecy provides a permissive environment for the neglect of established rules of conduct. Such neglect should never be allowed to occur when human experimentation is involved.
IOM (Institution of Medicine). 1993. Veterans at risk: The health effects of mustard gas and lewisite. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.