November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.
Zapped' veteran fights on
By PAUL WOOD © 2004 THE NEWS-GAZETTE Published Online January 25, 2004
RURAL THOMASBORO Doug Rokke has a stack of Army commendations as big as a suitcase. But he's not winning much love now from the military, speaking out all over the world on the dangers of depleted uranium.
The uranium, with most of the highly radioactive material taken out to be used in reactors, is heavy and hot-burning, and shells made from it have been used by tank crews in both Gulf Wars and Somalia to penetrate thick steel.
The health physicist, who retired this fall from the Army reserves as a major, says the nation has a debt to its warriors who became ill in the Gulf Wars, as well as to the Kuwaitis and Iraqis who still have dangerous weapons in their homeland. Rokke said 320 tons of uranium remain on the ground.
"My 30-plus-year military career has been dedicated to ensuring our nation's sons and daughters have optimal military education and training, they receive the medical care and applicable pensions that they earned during service our nation, they are given safe and effective equipment, and that environmental contamination caused by military operations is cleaned up," Rokke, 54, said last week.
He also has health concerns as close to home as it gets.
"I'm zapped," he says. The way to test for uranium fragments in the body is through urine tests.
Army documents show a high level for Rokke, though he says he was not informed of the test results for 2 years after the Army got them.
Testifying at United Nations conferences about depleted uranium's health effects, as well as a 1999 "60 Minutes" appearance, have made him well-known and disliked in Army medical circles.
Barbara Goodno, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, all but huffs when she speaks about him.
"Doug Rokke is not now and never has been a Department of Defense expert on depleted uranium," she said Thursday.
"He is a Gulf War veteran, and we thank him for his service. He was not in charge of the (depleted uranium) group. He happened to be in theater (of war) at the time, and he was the go-to guy. But the experts were the civilian contractors."
Rokke was a lieutenant in 1991. He was promoted to captain after Gulf War I, where commendations note the importance of his work in the cleanup. He was promoted to major before his retirement.
But the Army maintains that Rokke's science is poor, exaggerating how widespread the health effects of depleted uranium are.
The Department of Defense's Dr. Michael Kilpatrick said a study of 90 veterans who were in a vehicle hit by depleted uranium friendly fire, found no evidence of unusual cancers.
"It's very clear that DU outside the body does not pose a hazard to people," he said. If it enters the body, he said, researchers are checking for signs of kidney damage.
The uranium saves American lives in the long run, he added.
"It is a powerful munition for penetrating enemy armor," he said. "In our own vehicles, the use of it as armor prevents the penetration of tanks from enemy fire."
Rokke believes there are hundreds more who have been exposed, and has anecdotal evidence of deaths, including close friends of his. He points to rashes on his back as evidence of uranium toxicity, and has kidney problems.
He never intended to be a whistleblower.
Rokke grew up in Libertyville. He moved to rural Thomasboro because his wife, Carol, has farming roots here. They have two grown sons as well as a living room full of toys only a grandparent could love.
Rokke's first experience with the military was the Air Force right after high school, during the Vietnam War era. He says he flew 38 missions with the Strategic Air Command as an electronics operator. While in SAC, he befriended the late Frank Elliott, who later commanded Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul.
After college, Rokke joined the Army National Guard, then the Reserve. Throughout these years, he studied at the University of Illinois, where he earned a doctorate, and wrote papers about physics and health.
While in the service, he wrote technical papers on radiation sickness and produced a training video the Army never released.
He vows to continue speaking out now that he is retired.
"I owe it to the warriors I served with," he says.
Page created January 19, 2004 by Charlie Jenks