|Inquiry into Gulf
War illnesses - London, July - September 2004
5. Symptoms and effects on women and children
Alex Izett, Corps of the Royal Engineers, 12 July 2004.
I am at present homeless, I do not have a permanent address. Because of certain conditions I suffer from, my beloved wife had me removed from the house with a court order. During my hunger strike protest she took me back in and cared for me over the six‑week period.
Shaun Rusling, Vice Chairman of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, 12 July 2004.
[Veterans' widows are] unable to obtain proper widows’ pensions because their conditions were not properly recorded and accepted.
Mrs Vicky Warriner, veteran's former wife, 12 July 2004.
I had my son in 1996; I had a normal pregnancy... In 1997, I was pregnant and went for a dating scan and was told that there was no heartbeat and that the baby had died and they dated it at nine weeks.
In 1998, I had another pregnancy and went for a dating scan and was told then that the baby’s heart was not beating and that it had died at 11 weeks...
In 1998 I became pregnant again... Finally, we were taken into a room and told that the baby was 35 weeks and two days and I was told that the baby had hydrocephalus and, from what she could see, a cyst in her brain that had wiped out most of her brain mass and that her body was measuring 27 weeks and her head was measuring 39 weeks. I said, “I want her out now”...
She had no ears; she had widely-spaced eyes but she could not blink because of the pressure from the hydrocephalus behind them, and the nurses told me afterwards that they thought she was probably blind. She had a bilateral cleft lip and palate that had taken half her nose away; she had no thumbs; she had clubbed feet and poorly formed joints and I later found out from the autopsy that she had a set of ribs missing as well... The ladies in the special baby care unit said that they had never seen such a damaged baby in over 20 years at that hospital...
Mark was there for me in the first couple of months; he would not talk about it but he was there. Then he told me that he wanted to leave in the April. He started to get very bad tempered but it was all aimed at me. He was angry but he was not really shouting at me. Whenever he answered a question, he was always snappy and just very bad tempered and I did not really recognise him.
Russell Walker, RAF, 12 July 2004.
Through discussions with fellow sufferers and people who were out at the same time as me, they have gone on to have families that have had problems with children, heart conditions and similar conditions, and, as a result, I made a conscious decision not to have a family of my own because I did not think I would cope, with everything else that is going on with me, with any other stress in my life.
Richard Turnbull, RAF, 19 July 2004.
Since the return from the Gulf War my health has gradually deteriorated to where I am now disabled. I rely completely on my wife for everything.
Keith Paul, RAF, 19 July 2004.
In July last year my partner had to have an induced termination of pregnancy as it was found that the baby at a routine dating scan had the lethal form of brittle bone syndrome… [My] GBH conviction took place --- basically, I witnessed somebody who I knew – he has got a brown belt in karate – who decided to assault his girlfriend. I stepped in and basically the outcome was rather dubious, but at the time Tracey was having problems with the pregnancy, so I plea-bargained down to a section 20 from a section 18, malicious wounding with intent.
Michael Capps, Royal Corps of Transport, 19 July 2004.
Within two weeks of arriving home my fourth child was conceived. It was to be my first son. At no stage were we told to wait before trying for children after returning home. My son was born six weeks premature on 29/12/91. My second son again was born six weeks premature. Both my sons suffer from severe mood swings and violent outbursts...
One of [my] other symptoms is memory loss, so my wife helped me put the list together… If my two sons have got something that I have passed on to them, I would like to know how much further down their generations that is going to carry on, all because, as I say, I acted out a dream.
My family is suffering and my sons’ families are going to suffer. If so, for how long?
Mrs Deborah Capps, wife of the previous veteran, 19 July 2004.
Mike returned on 6 April 1991 and from the moment I saw him I knew he had changed and that something was wrong. He became withdrawn and very quick-tempered and snappy with the children… I have control of his medication because of his past attempts at suicide and to stop him trying it again…
I cannot work because I am his carer… Our children and I live our lives on a knife edge, not knowing what mood he is in or how he will react… Since he came home from the Gulf we have had two sons who have both been diagnosed with autistic tendencies. Sometimes it is very hard to cope with their mood swings and my husband’s.
My own health has suffered. Until he came home from the Gulf I never had cold sores or tonsillitis, but now I have them almost constantly. I also have gynaecalogical problems which make intimate relations difficult.. Our quality of life is very poor. The constant physical and mental health problems on all our parts make us take one day at a time. We cannot plan ahead because we do not know what the future holds.
Mark McGreevy, Royal Signals, 19 July 2004.
My wife has accompanied me and I know that I will be completely worn out when I get home tonight and I will struggle into work tomorrow morning. My wife continually nags me not to go into work because she knows that I am feeling rough but [I have] a mortgage and young children to support.
Alvin Pritchard, Queen's Dragoon Guards, 19 July 2004.
Mood swings. My wife was the first to notice the change in character... I went into a state of denial… I am 39 years old. My wife as well has been through hell and back over this illness.
SIR MICHAEL DAVIES: She cares for you?
Louisa Graham, a veteran's widow, 19 July 2004.
One of the worst things that happened was that he gradually became violent, particularly towards myself, and that escalated... Eventually in 2002 his outbursts from the beginning of the year became more and more frequent and more and more dangerous, and he was becoming very depressed and would not speak hardly at all. He was threatening me in such a way that I felt it was necessary that I had to leave home for my own safety…
I at the time was living amongst various friends and bed and breakfast accommodation for a period of about two months and never stayed more than about two days in the same place, for their safety as well as my own.
He was stalking me, trying to follow me wherever he could. I work in a secure building because of the kind of children we deal with, so I was continuing to work, but he was waiting for me and hiring different cars to try and follow me. He again attempted suicide in October, and the police were called several times to the house.
Dr Nigel Humphrey Graveston, Chair of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, 33 Field Hospital RAMC at Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia. Consultant anaesthetist in the army, 19 July 2004.
During this episode I visited my parents, and my mother raised the issue of whether I had this Gulf War Syndrome.
Lisa Mates. From her written statement to the Inquiry about her brother, Paul Carr, who died in August of 1997, 19 July 2004.
At this time, Paul had two young daughters to support, both of which had had to have heart operations. Neither sets of parents had any history of heart problems in their families, which the doctors found strange.
Michael Barber, Royal Corps of Transport, 21 July 2004.
At the time my wife kept saying to me, “You are not right”, because I kept getting headaches and stuff all the time and I was not bothered about my wife. We had had a child in 1994 as well, and I had no interest.
Jason Bosworth, Ordnance Corps, 21 July 2004.
My wife has actually given me an ultimatum. Because of my aggression being so bad, she has been on at me for years to go and get help... My marriage is extremely strained and my wife will not see me losing my temper the way I do with my kids, and I am actually seeing a psychiatrist... to try and control my temper…
I mentioned my wife earlier and I now lead on to my wife. I had a vasectomy in late 2000 and my wife started becoming ill about 15 months later. The period of time I got ill was about 21 months, when I returned. Previous to that we practised safe sex, using condoms, and now my wife is extremely ill and unable to work.
She suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and she appears to mirror my symptoms. She is only just two years into it and she is in the same mess I was in nine years ago.
The National Gulf Veterans’ and Families’ Association some time ago sent a sheet to members listing reports that they hold, and I spotted an article written by Garth and Nancy Nicholson, amongst others, PhDs, which was research into mycoplasmal infections, chronic fatigue, ill family members, and basically they found a link between ill Gulf veterans and ill family members both suffering from chronic fatigue. They concentrated on the chronic fatigue. So, ill Gulf veterans with chronic fatigue and ill family members with chronic fatigue [were] tested for mycoplasmal infections, and they found a link between chronic fatigue, the mycoplasmal infections and the multiple vaccinations administered to the ill veterans, and I have a copy of that here which I will hand in…
We mentioned that to my doctor, and my wife and I both went to see the doctor together, and she suggested we had a test for mycoplasm infection and we both tested positive for that... I would also like to point out, going back to [the] financial side, that my wife did not pay enough tax three or four tax years ago, and even if you have worked for this country for forty years, if you do not pay enough tax in the two tax years before the year you get ill, you do not get anything unless your partner is earning an absolute pittance, so my wife gets nothing. She gets pension credits, and they are making her go for a medical for that, so you can imagine I am really pleased with the system. So basically we are a wage down in our house. She cannot work, and unless she gets better she is never going to get any sickness benefit while she is married to me.
Obviously this leaves myself still with health problems, I am struggling working full time. I never expected this to happen when I made that call to leave the army, I thought I would have a second wage coming in to help me with my condition, so I am having to work full time...
My wife wanted to attend today to support me, she wanted to come with me and listen to what I had to say, if she could help, but she is just not well enough…
Our life. Our family life is tough, our social life is non existent. Work is very hard for me and impossible for my wife. She even struggles to run the house. We cannot partake in physical exercise, not even recreational.
I mention again, we have no quality of life. We cannot even enjoy family outings or going on holidays because my wife is currently too ill. Family holidays have been affected for a number of years. Life is a constant struggle for my wife and I, and all family members have been affected in one shape or another. For example, I tried to take my wife to open air Shakespeare performance on Saturday night. She used to love it. She was not feeling 100 per cent before we went, but she was desperate to go and see it. Within ten minutes she felt very ill and at the interval we had to go home. My daughter was there, she was upset, but what can you do? My wife just could not sit there any longer...
On Sunday my wife wanted to go and buy a cardigan for my daughter’s end of school prom night, but because she went out for a short period the night before, she was just too exhausted. She could not go. I am certain [that,] had I not served in the Gulf War, my wife and I would be well; I have no questions. We would be enjoying a decent family life rather than the nightmare we currently endure...
THE CHAIRMAN: But is the suggestion, and we will obviously look at it, that you might in some way have infected her?
A. That is my belief, yes.
Gerard Davey, RAF, 21 July 2004.
My marriage broke down... I left October 1997 and went back after about seven months for about six months then split up again, and I was living on my own and got a new partner who was far more understanding. My whole life changed from having a wife, kids and grandchildren to look out for to just a partner who looked out for me, so there was a complete role reversal. If I could not do anything my new partner completely understood. If I just had a lie down she would understand. The whole family situation completely changed and it was a big load lifted off my shoulders, and it helped my health, improved it a little bit..
Dafydd Alun Jones. Consultant Psychiatrist holding clinics for ex-servicemen, 27 July 2004.
One mother from Glasgow said to me, “I sent two of my sons to the Gulf and I got two monsters back.” A surprising number of mothers - because many of these men are very young - have been the ones who have made contact. A lady from Doncaster said to me, “My son went to the Gulf ten years ago and my son never came back.” It is very poignant.
Professor Albrecht Schott, Head of World Depleted Uranium Centre, 27 July 2004.
[I demand that you] invite Mandy, [Kenny Duncan's] wife, because part of my evidence is the demand to accept Gulf War veterans’ wives as war victims because Mandy Duncan, his wife, suffers from the so‑called burning semen syndrome.
The reason why I demand that is firstly, because of the torture of burning semen syndrome and, secondly, they married after the war and they had three children and all three children are heavily congenitally damaged and therefore my proposal is to invite all five. They are the living examples of that...
Just one [other] point, is that these wives let themselves be sterilised to prevent having more congenitally damaged children. This is why I demand they be accepted as war victims.
Jack Melling, the United States Government Accountability Office, 28 July 2004.
SIR MICHAEL DAVIES: Could I ask about your point about women reacting perhaps twice as badly as men? Are women given the same size vaccine as men?
SIR MICHAEL DAVIES: It could be a bit like alcohol tolerance in women and men?
A. Again, that is a point that others have also made, but the studies that have been done suggest that it is not simply a matter of body mass. There is something in respect of the differences in hormones and the physiology of men and women that simply makes them react in different ways.
Nancy Kingsbury, US Government Accountability Office, 3 August 2004.
This study was the first suggestion that we saw that women's adverse reactions [to anthrax vaccine] were seriously greater than men's. These adverse reactions are not just sore shoulders; they are fever; they are malaise; they are chills; things of that sort…
In [the US] it was a matter of saying to our veterans, "It is all in your head; go away", or, "It is all in your head; I will see you next week for 20 minutes", or whatever; and - I will tell you ‑ in [the US] we have another disease that largely affects women that is undergoing the same problem. It is called "chronic fatigue syndrome". It may, in fact, be related [to] a different cause, but I know several women who have been told it is all in their heads, and I know how devastated their lives are from that, and yet, at least in the area of Gulf War syndrome, it appears there is a physiological cause.