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[casi] 4,000 U.S. non-combat evacuations in Iraq 

Here is an article from UPI that I found at
Best to all, Charlie

Charles Jenks, attorney at law
President of the Core Group
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-1633; Fax 413-773-7507

4,000 U.S. non-combat evacuations in Iraq 

By Mark Benjamin
Investigations Editor

Published 10/3/2003: WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Nearly 4,000 U.S. troops
have been medically evacuated from Operation Iraqi Freedom for non-combat
reasons -- with more than one in five of those for psychiatric or
neurological problems, according to Pentagon data.

A total of 3,915 evacuations from the region have been for non-combat
medical problems. A combination of what the Pentagon is calling evacuations
for "psychiatric" and "neurological" problems make up 22 percent of the
total, with 478 and 387 evacuations, respectively.

Another 544 evacuations have been for "general surgery," 290 for
gynecological reasons and 118 for orthopedic problems.

Army Surgeon General spokeswoman Virginia Stephanakis, who supplied the
data, said on Friday that she had few details, but that the Pentagon had not
detected any "red flags" indicating troubling or unexpected health patterns.

Some of the evacuations were for accidental injuries, she said, adding that
orthopedic, or bone, problems might reflect vehicle accidents.

A leading veterans' group said the data needed to be studied to understand
the true cost of the war and potential health hazards.

"Clearly there is more detail that needs to be given about the nature and
causes of these evacuations," said Steve Robinson, executive director of the
National Gulf War Resource Center.

In August, the Pentagon announced an investigation into a mysterious
pneumonia that killed two soldiers and made 17 others so sick they needed
ventilators to breathe. The probe is focusing on the role of smoking, those
officials said.

An investigation by United Press International found that 17 soldiers in
Operation Iraqi Freedom have died from sudden illnesses, including three
with fluid in the lungs, eight who suddenly collapsed and three who were
found dead in their cots. 

Robinson questioned whether any of the psychiatric or neurological problems
might be related to Lariam, a common anti-malaria drug given to many
soldiers in the region. Lariam's FDA-approved product label warns of reports
of hallucinations, seizures, paranoia, aggression, delusions and suicide. 

Published reports this summer said the military was investigating several
suspected suicides. UPI found that at least 15 service members in Operation
Iraqi Freedom have died from what were described as non-combat gunshot
wounds, the latest on Sept. 30.

The Pentagon says it sometimes uses Lariam, known generically as mefloquine,
over other anti-malaria drugs because side effects are rare and must be
weighed against the risk of getting malaria.

A total of 318 soldiers have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 20,
according to the Pentagon. Another 1,380 soldiers have been wounded in
action as of Oct. 1.

Contributing: Christine Moyer 

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

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