Veterans Groups Sue Over Edgewood Arsenal Testing

Three veterans groups are suing over Edgewood Arsenal medical testing. U.S. Army soldiers were subjected to secret drug experiments at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland during the Cold War that, allegedly, sickened some veterans.

We previously wrote that while the veterans filed a lawsuit against the U.S government, none were seeking financial compensation. Instead, they are asking to have a so-called secrecy oath imposed on them by the U.S. Army lifted, and were 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.

Now, said Stars and Stripes, the three veterans groups seek class-action status for their 2009 lawsuit against the Defense Department, the CIA, and the Army. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of soldiers who participated in the research programs at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick. According to the lawsuit, chemical and biological weapons were tested on soldiers, the military neglected to provide follow-up care for their symptoms, and most of their test-related disability claims have been denied.

The veterans and their families are still not seeking monetary damages, but do demand that the military advise test participants about the chemicals to which they were exposed, including doses and administration methods; the federal government would also be required to provide healthcare for veterans who suffer from diseases related to the tests, said Stars and Stripes.

One veteran was given sarin gas and its antidotes, as well as other unknown injections. That veteran has suffered heart damage, said Stars and Stripes. Another veteran developed Parkinson’s disease, which he blames on an array of injections and pills he received Edgewood; he was never advised what he was given.

We recently wrote that, according to a CNN report on the matter, the veterans subjected to these experiments included Army Private Wray Forest, who spent two months at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland undergoing top secret research. 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 died of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs and lymph nodes. At his death, Wray was 61.

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 previously. 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.

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