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Army admits Gulf War medical records destroyed- letter ordering destruction found

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Feb. 11, 2011                  AZcentral
WTSP-TV, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. –

A letter from the Department of the Army telling units to destroy their records after the end of Operation Desert Storm has made it more difficult for injured veterans to get the medical benefits they need.

The letter, never made public before now, says units were told to destroy their records because officials had no room to ship the paperwork back to the United States. The letter goes on to say it was in direct contradiction to existing Army regulations.

“This could have been one, five, six, a couple of hundred or this could be thousands (of soldiers),” says Andrew Marshall, a Florida regional officer with the nonprofit Disabled American Veterans group. “You don’t know.”

One solider trying to get help from the Veterans Administration for combat-related injuries says he has been turned down because his records are missing. He did not want to be identified.

He says he has all the medical records for the time he was in the states, but the records for everything that happened outside of the country are gone.

Marshall says the Army should have backups to the records destroyed in the Persian Gulf.

But the Army’s letter says several years after soldiers began putting in medical claims, it was discovered all records below the brigade level no longer existed.

Operation Desert Storm pushed Iraqi troops out of Kuwait but kept Saddam Hussein in power and lasted from Aug. 2, 1990, to the cease-fire April 11, 1991. In the conflict, 383 service members died; as of last year, 467 were reported injured. About 2.225 million troops served in the war, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Not just the after-action reports have been destroyed or are missing. According to some files, when some veterans come to the Veterans Administration to get help for service-related disabilities, records show they served, but medical records are missing.

That means when the vets make claims, they are turned down.

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