Taking the Cure

I read your article regarding the anthrax vaccine ("Shot to Hell," Laura Laughlin, January 27), and I salute you on a job very well done. Both sides were represented. I was a member of the Michigan Air National Guard. I took the vaccine, four shots. After the fourth, I got extremely ill. Symptoms varied from being bedridden for a week, then on to abdominal cramping, chronic headaches, memory loss, vertigo, trouble concentrating, achy joints (this was as of March 99). Just three weeks ago, I experienced blood blisters in my mouth. I refused the fifth shot, and have since been kicked out of the military. There were nine out of 12 at our base who had many of the same effects as those that I have listed above. I hope you continue to press on with your coverage of this. This is the most repulsive thing I have ever seen happen within the military. It appears to be a growing war within itself.

Hopefully, if these stories get circulated enough, someone will begin paying attention. If not our leaders in command, then at the very least, soldiers who have not yet heard of this catastrophe.

Randi Allaire
Eton Rapids, Michigan

Thank you for a superb article on the anthrax vaccination program. I am a member of the Ohio Air National Guard with 14 years of service. When I first heard about the vaccinations, I was fairly indifferent and didn't give it much thought. Then I started to hear some of the "rumors" of individuals getting sick from the shots. My unit had a presentation that was running on the projector every weekend. There were articles and pamphlets available to read. It all seemed very cut and dried.

Then, a close friend whom I respect very much told me that he had done some research and would not be taking the shots. He provided me with a lot of eye-opening material, much of which focused on the business aspects of the Department of Defense's deal with BioPort, the vaccine's manufacturer.

I then started to investigate on my own and reviewed much of what your article addressed and more. I subscribe to the "Anthrax-No" mail list, which provides me links to articles such as your own, as well as scientific reports and articles. In light of this new information, I am highly suspicious that the current vaccine being used for phase one inoculations is bad medicine and I will not under any circumstances allow myself to be injected with it.

I feel that there is an as-yet-unproven link between anthrax vaccine and Gulf War Syndrome. I am somewhat buoyed by recent developments in determining actual causes of GWS, but I don't see enough effort in analyzing current veterans who are displaying similar symptoms to GWS, but never served in the gulf and have only received the anthrax vaccine.

The end result is that I will be getting out of the military this summer. I do not want to risk the chance that I will be activated and forced to take the shot. This has absolutely nothing to do with any fears about being activated. It has everything to do with an unproven vaccine in which the data that I've found contradict nearly every claim by DOD. I am proud of my service. I enjoyed my service. I wish that I was not put in this position. At least I have the luxury of choice. Active duty service members, federal civil service workers (full-time guardsmen) and those close to retirement don't have that choice. My decision doesn't help them. That is why it's important for reporters like Laughlin to spread the truth to the public and create enough support to get this policy changed.

Name withheld by request

Thank you for the wonderful article by Laura Laughlin on the military's anthrax vaccination program. Now, how do we get the message to the masses?

The bills in Congress are not moving, and only those involved, with few exceptions, even care. I think one of the biggest problems is that nowadays a very small percentage of our representatives has had military experience, while most of them had in the past. They don't care -- doesn't put money in their pocket -- so why bother?

There are a few who are trying to help; but unless the general public is made aware of this and made to understand the problem, these poor GIs will continue to get sick, quit, ruin careers, and die! Gulf War veterans are in the same boat.

Years ago, it was Agent Orange in Vietnam. Now the government is saying it may have been responsible. Well, too late -- people are dead or sick. My brother is one of those who died of brain tumors we think could have been a result of Agent Orange.

The government just keeps plodding along -- somewhere on the Net is a list of government deceptions from the beginning to now. It's unbelievable.

Barbara Burdick
via Internet

Looking Back

I am writing to correct a number of inaccuracies and false suppositions that appeared in "Spade & Neutered " by Kathleen Vanesian (January 13). Vanesian is discussing "Looking Forward, Looking Black," the exhibition organized by my students and me at Hobart and William Smith Colleges on display at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

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