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Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite
opportunity to supplement their statements with written documentation.
After the hearing, each veteran who spoke at the hearing received a letter of thanks from the chairman of the committee. Other veterans who participated through the mail and telephone received a memorandum from the study director informing them that the hearing had taken place and outlining the committee's next steps.
The press coverage generated by the public hearing elicited additional input from veterans who were previously unaware of the hearing or the committee's activities. Statements from these veterans were accepted and incorporated into the committee's deliberations until the end of August 1992. Thus, input from veterans was accepted by the committee during approximately seven months of the study.
RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Types of Veteran Exposures
A total of 257 individuals, including veterans and surviving spouses or relatives, reported a variety of types of exposures to the committee. Although some types of exposures were expected, other types had not been foreseen by the committee. For example, as expected, many men reported their experiences in gas chamber tests, such as those conducted at the NRL, and others reported having participated in patch tests. In addition, a number of men who had participated in field tests contacted the committee. The largest additional group of veterans consisted of those who had been trained to handle toxic gases as part of their military assignments, often as part of military units organized under the Chemical Warfare Service (CWS). As outlined in Chapter 3, such men performed many types of functions, including loading gas bombs and decontamination of test sites and equipment.
The committee also heard from a very small group of veterans who had been exposed to sulfur mustard in combat. These individuals were either World War I veterans or veterans who had been injured in the Bari harbor bombing in WWII. Another large group of veterans who were exposed to the chemical warfare agents during various training exercises also contacted the committee. Experiences among this group were quite heterogeneous, ranging from drops of sulfur mustard applied to the skin to reports of use of sulfur mustard (as opposed to tear gas) in gas mask training exercises. One woman who had been an Army pilot during WWII reported having transported a variety of toxic chemicals from place to place within the United States, in addition to being exposed to Lewisite during flight training.
It should be emphasized that the vast majority of veterans contacting