Gulf War Illness – GWI

by David McNease

gulf war syndrome

Gulf War Illness came from the US bombing of Iraq in 1991. It was quite simple actually. We sent bombers over Iraq to destroy strategic, operational and tactical targets in Iraq. The smokes and fumes from what we bombed went into the air. The prevailing winds were North to South. I say again, North to South.  We also had toxins from the oil wells, burning tires and anything else the Iraqi Army could use the camouflage their vehicles and command centers.
Following the bombing and all the other smoke in the air we consumed aviation grade fuel. People don’t consume aviation grade fuel and survive. True. However, many of us did. The KC-135’s the refueled aircraft going in and out of Iraq literally refueled right over my head in 7th Corps. On some real clear days, one could look above and see the aircraft coming up the refueling station in the air.
So now all 300,000 + troops in the field and all the aircraft crew were directly exposed to the mix of toxins in the air.
The debate about how does it appear in the body has stymied the VA, the Defense Department for years. Since everyone wants numbers the best I can say is 85% – 15%. All of my senses have decreased 15% or more. I don’t smell 85% of the time. My taste is good 85% of the time. My skin has rashes, peeling, redness 85% of the time. My lungs work good 85% of the time. So, I have panic attacks and PTSD triggers being slammed on a regular basis. My vision is scary. It did not really hit me until someone jokingly said, “Are you blind?” I actually am. My vision without my glasses is 20/750. Which means I have difficulty seeing the first E. Dropping my glasses or misplacing them after I sleep also can cause panic attacks. Headaches vary from a small migraine to spinal tap intensity.  Memory is not only different but it changes. Sometimes my short term memory is like a goldfish. I can’t remember what I ordered from a menu or simple instructions. I get lost in the city of 6,000 people. I can’t be in major cities as I cough up soot looking material.
Pain is off the chart. Imagine 10,000 needles poking inside your leg. Now increase that pain by five or six for the rest of the body. No wonder so many veteran have killed themselves. It is the pain.
Lastly, Many GWI veterans are depressed, and thought of suicide, and probably attempted it at least once. My last attempt was June 2013. Cycling thoughts of suicide can intensify to thoughts of homicide.
Sadly, many children and spouses have GWI. One with GWI may have children with chronic, severe or even rare genetic diseases. Most women (spouses) have had one or more miscarriages. My wife lost twins in 2002. I am not sure how or why GWI is passed on to the spouse and children.
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12 Comments for “Gulf War Illness – GWI”


  2. Gulf War Syndrome is a mutlfactorial in etiology. But it is well documented paper trail from the early work of Dr Leonard Horowitz,DMD,PH for both the vaccines and other creations. In early 1994 it was exposed by Bill Cooper as well and is in his archives.

  3. One main issue that I have noticed is that the 30 year rule for release of classified has changed. Now with the three recent presidents the classified can be destroyed if “deemed in the nation interest.” In other words, we will never know the actual truth because it has been destroyed. The US Government had to pay out for Agent Orange because documents were declassified. Gulf War Illness records probably have all been destroyed and the only way we will be able to know the truth in from the servicemembers that were actually there.

    • I discussed losing senses. Just a couple of examples Today while running with my service dog west down US 41 in Northern Michigan my hands went to sleep then went completely numb. I literally could not feel my fingers or control them (This occurred for over 15 minutes.). Last week while running west down US 41 in Northern Michigan I was wearing contacts as my vision is 20/775. My vision went out for more than 30 seconds. It was just a blur and felt like trying to steer while in a whiteout.

  4. Weren’t there reports of servicemen and women being exposed to depleted uranium?

    • The depleted uranium exposures were minor compared with getting fuel and other toxins dropped on us from overhead for over 40 days. The depleted uranium was from the tank rounds that were shot only in the ground war which was only a few days.

  5. I also believe that the brain changes when exposed to a barren dull existence for many many months. Other than the job , there was the heat, the intense sun in Saudi and southern Iraq. There is little sensory and mental stimulation on these deployments. Some of us say, my God, other than the job, what is in store for today.
    I have always wondered why no one talks about the down time in war zones and other types of deployments.
    I have seen too many troops desperate because of the boredom . Boredom is always mixed with the minority time spent in the Gulf War of 1991.
    For hyperactive people like me, it was near intolerable spending months and months in the desert.
    I observed thousands of soldiers and I could see the frustration. For those who arrived in Saudi in August through December 1990, they put a lot of months in just setting up, doing PT, and waiting under a hot sun and empty environment.
    In Vietnam they had beer. Some used other substances. In the desert there is no scenery so to speak. It is nearly all the same. Just a thought.

    • Thanks for the reply. You are right the frustration of literally putting your life on a shelf was mind numbing. Months of sitting and waiting for a build up many of us were exposed to the air toxins. The US Government will probably never release any documents that describe our exposures. They can simply delete them if it is in the National Interest.

  6. Dear David Mcnease,
    I am so sorry for your pain. My wish for you is complete recovery from the physical, mental, and emotional pain you’ve been enduring.

    • Thanks Venice. I have written three other articles here on Veterans Today all about the Gulf War 1991.

  7. Sorry to read of your pain. I believe that war was the roll-out for depleted uranium munitions. This aspect would explain how toxicity is passed to spouses and children. You may wish to read up on Doug Rokke’s journey. Consider holistic detoxification processes, juicing, and supplements, including CBD, the non-psychoactive medicine in cannabis. Wishing you healing-

    • Pain can help us to greater dreams if we empower it to do so. The depleted uranium was probably not the major cause of illnesses as it was only used for the few days of the ground war. I have and am using different approaches to a healthier life. The bottomline is that without medications I am a shaking mess. We probably will never know the toxins that were ingested by Gulf War Veterans.

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