Army Subjected Soldiers To Secret, Cold War Era Drug Experiments at Edgewood Arsenal

U.S. Army soldiers were subjected to secret drug experiments at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland during the Cold War that have allegedly left some veterans in ill health, according to report that recently aired on CNN. While some have filed a lawsuit against the U.S government, none of the soldiers subjected to these experiments is seeking financial compensation. Instead, they are asking to have a so-called secrecy oath imposed on them by the U.S. Army lifted, and are seeking full disclosure of the drugs and toxins – including dosage and health effects – they were exposed to, as well as health care and treatment for any exposure-related ailments.

According to CNN, the veterans subjected to these experiments included Army Private Wray Forest, who spent two months at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland—as Medical Volunteer No. 6692 in 1973—undergoing top secret research under a program looking at chemical and biologic weapons, said his widow, Kathryn Forrest, wrote CNN.

In a deposition before his death, Wray said of the testing, “It wound up making me want to do things very rapidly and in a rushed manner.” In the deposition he went on to described how he “wound up like a golf ball teed off in a tile bathroom. Bouncing off the walls,” CNN said. Wray was injected with an array of substances at Edgewood, and, say court documents, he was not the only one.

From 1955 to 1975 more than 7,000 soldiers spent about two months each at Edgewood undergoing numerous tests involving at least 250 chemical and biologic agents, explained CNN. The names and effects of the agents were, for the most part, not known to the soldiers, but, recently declassified government documents discuss incapacitating drugs, fatally toxic elements, neurotoxins, and hallucinogenics—BZ, sarin, VX, LSD—to name just some. It seems, the men had to promise to maintain confidentiality concerning the experiments and Edgewood Arsenal, said CNN. The research was suspended in 1975.

According to his deposition, Wray entered the program believing it was to test Army gear, vehicles, and military combat equipment. The program offered a compelling four-day workweek with three-day weekends and no duty assignments outside of testing. “It was only after we got to Edgewood Arsenal that they mentioned they would be using drugs,” Wray said in his deposition, wrote CNN. Although “given an option of not taking the test,” there were “innuendos—with the option of bad punishment if we did not participate,” he added.

Before he died, Wray suffered from severe migraine headaches, and was diagnosed with PTSD; as well as bundle branch block, a delay or block in the cardiac electrical system that regulates heart beat and can lead to a slow heart rate, heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, and sudden cardiac death. He also suffered a stroke in 1997; a stroke in 2000; skin cancer; Type-2 diabetes; and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Wray left the military in 1982, honorably discharged after a 16-year career at the rank of Sgt. 1st Class. In 2010, Wray ultimately died of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs and lymph nodes. At his death, Wray was only 61-years-old, according to CNN.

Before his death, the Wrays sought treatment at several VA clinics, but his complaints were roundly dismissed when Edgewood was discussed. Wray was ultimately allowed to change his secrecy pledge, but was not permitted to discuss “anything that relates to operational information that might reveal chemical or biological warfare vulnerabilities or capabilities.” According to Kathryn, “every time he would go they would see the notation on his chart that he was an Edgewood Arsenal test subject and they would blow him off no matter what the complaint was.”

Kathryn says that despite Wray’s smoking, he could have been saved but received substandard treatment from the VA. Wray and five other Edgewood veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America have sued the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the CIA over the Edgewood experiments, CNN said.

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