thinking it might now be permissible to reveal their experiences. This continuing secrecy, in the committee's view, has impeded well-informed health care for thousands of people.
The committee recommends that the VA and DoD publicly announce and widely advertise that personnel exposed to mustard agents or Lewisite during their service are released from any oath of secrecy taken at the time. In addition, professional educational materials should be prepared by the VA or DoD, or both, and made available for physicians who may be treating affected individuals. These materials should incorporate the latest information regarding the long-term health effects of exposure to mustard agents and Lewisite.
There is no doubt that the long-term health consequences of exposure to mustard agents or Lewisite can be serious and, in some cases, devastating. This report has demonstrated that complete knowledge of these long-term consequences has been and still is sorely lacking, resulting in great costs to some of those exposed in WWII. The lack of knowledge, however, has ongoing ramifications as nations will probably continue to use these chemical weapons in battle or begin to grapple with their disposal. Thus, accidental and deliberate human exposures to mustard agents and Lewisite can only be expected to continue in the foreseeable future.