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‘43 troops died in the war—800 have died since’

Tony Flint, a veteran from the 1991 Gulf War, suffers from Gulf War Syndrome—a condition the British government does not even recognise. An official US report has found a "probable link" between exposure to toxic chemicals in the 1991 war a

Issue No. 1924

I AM bloody angry with the British government. After the 1991 Gulf War a Tory MP said that the country owed British soldiers a debt of honour.

We are still waiting for that debt to be paid.

I was in the 205 Hospital Unit. Like thousands of other Gulf veterans, since coming back I have become ill with Gulf War Syndrome.

I have had post-traumatic stress, glandular fever which I passed on to my wife, and two discs in my body have gone rotten. I have had memory problems, weight loss of over two stone, problems with my right kidney and a personality change.

Gulf War Syndrome is down to the cocktail of vaccines the army forced us to take, and the effects of depleted uranium and anti-nerve agent tablets.

The enemy did not do this—our own side did.

During the Gulf War 43 British guys were lost in battle. Since coming back the overall death rate has reached nearly two dead veterans a week.

The US department of defence has said that 13,000 US veterans have died. At least 800 British soldiers have died so far. We can’t get help from anywhere.

One thing that is killing veterans, and Iraqi kids, is depleted uranium. Weapons coated with depleted uranium leave a radioactive toxic dust behind. It causes cancer.

In 1991 we left behind 300 tonnes of it. Another 1,200 tonnes were left behind after last year’s war. There are 1,500 tonnes of this stuff lying around in Iraq.

Over 5,000 British soldiers are on war pensions. All have illnesses connected to the Gulf War. Some people had young families when they first became too ill to work.

I am a founding member of the National Gulf Veterans Family Association. Six of us started it and there are four of us left now. We are coming up to 3,000 members.

Both the Tories and New Labour have betrayed us. Two months before Labour got in in 1997, shadow defence secretary David Clark promised us proper compensation.

He lost his job as soon as Labour got into power. We haven’t got anything from any of his successors.

The troops in Iraq should be brought home immediately before thousands become ill. These guys shouldn’t have gone out in the first place.

The government has lied through its teeth.

All the Iraqi civilians are suffering. I was sent to Iraq as a reserve soldier. I was 43. I was 350 miles behind the lines at a military hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, counselling trauma victims, and I still got ill.

I was only 17 when I joined the army. Like a lot of young lads I was bored with home life and I wanted to see the world.

There was always a tradition of someone in my family being in the army.

Iraqis and soldiers are suffering because of these wars. Soldiers are just there to obey orders. It is the politicians’ fault that these wars are taking place.


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Features
Sat 23 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1924
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