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 Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK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.
Melissa Sterry on the dangers of 'depleted' uranium weapons
and the harm caused to GI's, their children and Iraqis
"When our government starts saying "Screw you, we aren't going to take care of you," we have a broken contract."
Gulf War veteran Melissa Sterry was a featured speaker at the DU Media Campaign's conference on 'depleted uranium' in New Paltz, NY on August 20, 2005. In 1992 she was stationed with the National Guard in Kuwait, where she cleaned out US military vehicles that had been hit by 'depleted' uranium munitions by US forces. She was intrumental in pushing for the passage of a Connecticut law that requires state advocacy for federal testing and treatment. The law applies to returning Connecticut National Guard members who have reason to believe they were exposed to 'depleted' uranium during their service.
Ms. Sterry was introduced by Joan Walker, an organizer with the DU Media Campaign.
Hear Melissa Sperry's talk - radio airplay is encouraged.
mp3 audio - 39:38 minutes; 13.7 mb; 48 kbps mono.
Photo © 2005 Charles Jenks; all rights reserved.
The Audio Recording is © 2005 Charles Jenks; all rights reserved.
The audio recording is available for radio airplay, without prior permission, provided that the radio station notifies Traprock of the airing (413-773-7427) and provides attribution and copyright notice. All other public use requires prior permission. In particular, internet websites are encouraged to link to, but may not post, the audio on their sites without prior permission. Individuals may download mp3 audio files for private use only.
Melissa Sterry of New Haven
A Veteran's Health In Ruins Says
Depleted Uranium Dust Caused Serious Problems
Thomas D. Williams
Hartford Courant May 3, 2005
A Persian Gulf War veteran who says exposure to depleted uranium dust ruined her health will be taking her case today to the United Nations.
Melissa Sterry of New Haven will appear with members of the Military Toxic Project, a group attempting to raise international awareness of the long-term health dangers posed by munitions, particularly those with environmental or radioactive effects. The following week she is scheduled to testify about veterans' needs before the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission in Washington, D.C.
Sterry has become a go-to person for advocacy groups since her account of her medical history mesmerized members of Connecticut's General Assembly in February.
Medical records say Sterry has post-traumatic stress, chronic headaches, and upper respiratory infections and repeating pneumonia. She also has three types of irregular heartbeats, muscle fatigue and spasms, joint aches, chronic diarrhea and nausea, vomiting, and blood in her urine and stool.
A 42-year-old former U.S. Army specialist, Sterry suspects her illnesses resulted from her exposure to depleted uranium dust and other hazardous substances while cleaning battle tanks and other front line equipment 14 years ago. However, the government does not concede she is sick from hazardous dust exposures.
Frustrated by the federal government's response, she joined the fight in the state legislature, testifying in favor of two bills meant to address the needs of ill soldiers and veterans who contend they are not getting help at the federal level. Connecticut is the first state to consider legislation that would authorize more testing of soldiers for depleted uranium.
While veterans have started turning to the states for help, Congress for several years now has recognized the need to compensate American nuclear munitions workers sickened by various radioactive materials, including depleted uranium dust.
In 2000, Congress passed legislation authorizing medical compensation for families of sick or dead nuclear munitions workers, many with cancer, who were exposed on the job.
The Department of Defense, meanwhile, insists there is no reliable evidence that soldiers inhaling and ingesting that same anti-tank munitions dust are falling ill because of it.
But doctors have noted similarities in health problems reported by both soldiers and workers exposed to various forms of uranium dust. Though an exact cause has not been identified, there is scientific evidence indicating the symptoms are consistent with those caused by uranium exposure.
"I never cease to be amazed at the hypocrisy of the American government. Here we have two groups dealing with the same hazardous exposures. One can get care and treatment, while the other cannot even get an acknowledgement they are sick from it," Sterry said.
The federal Labor and Energy Departments have developed compensation programs, but that doesn't mean the help is there. Civilian nuclear workers constantly complain the agencies have refused to pay legitimate medical claims or to help obtain workers' compensation benefits. At the Pentagon and Veterans Benefits Administration, assistance requests from soldiers and veterans of the gulf wars, now with long-term health problems, have met similar resistance.
Not only have Defense Department officials denied that depleted uranium dust is a health problem, but Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, said that from the outset, the Pentagon has opposed legislation intended to benefit civilian nuclear workers under contract with Defense.
After being asked for comment Thursday, Defense spokesman James Turner said Monday that DOD staff were still unprepared to comment about the agency's position on the legislation.
Depleted uranium, or DU, is a byproduct of uranium enrichment. Although it is far less radioactive than weapon- or reactor-grade uranium, it is still a toxic heavy metal. Its critics say it can be used in a "dirty" bomb designed to spread radioactive material with the intent of making an area uninhabitable.
The U.S. military favors DU hardened munitions that burn into and through hardened targets such as tanks, bunkers and caves. But that burning creates a fine dust of uranium oxide easily carried on the wind. When ingested or inhaled, these particles enter the lungs and blood, linger there, and eventually can create cancers, kidney ailments, as well as deformities and cancers in babies whose parents were exposed, according to medical literature.
When Sterry, who is single, retired from the military, she said the Department of Veterans Affairs ignored her depleted uranium dust exposures. A five-year fight with the agency ensued before Sterry obtained disability benefits that the agency refused to classify as DU-related.
"I don't want to be disabled," said Sterry, reacting to her extended battle with Veterans Affairs. "I want to get off it. I'm telling them, `Fix me!'" Unemployed since leaving the military, Sterry has, at times, had trouble dressing and paying for food and a roof over her head.
Marion Fulk, who has for years studied the results of explosions of various nuclear-type weapons, said both enriched uranium and depleted uranium create serious health effects. Fulk is a retired chemical physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project that developed the world's first atomic weapons. He was employed for years at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the University of California and has decades of experience studying radiation and plutonium health hazards.
Fulk sees the difference between depleted and enriched uranium as one of degree, with the end result being the same. "Do you want to shoot yourself with one barrel or two barrels of a shotgun?"
"A single, nuclear deterioration will do some biological damage," he said. "It can be a single atom that disintegrates - or hundredths of a tenth of a micron - and once it starts, it eventually digests the [human or animal] cell and kills it. By firing a [depleted uranium] dust or dirty bomb, they could put a whole section of New York City out of commission."
Page created by Charlie Jenks