16 July 1997
A MODERN DAY JOAN OF ARC TAKES A HIT
Dr. Katherine Murray Leisure is a soldier for the truth and a gutsy fighter to boot. Leisure, an expert on Gulf War diseases, recently got speared in the back because she wouldn't stop speaking out about our sick Persian Gulf War veterans and how they're not being correctly treated.
Until this month she was the Persian Gulf Coordinator at Pennsylvania's Lebanon Veteran's Administration Medical Center. But Leisure made too many waves and threatened the Veteran's Affairs and the Department of Defense fat cats who want the so called Gulf War Syndrome to go away, just as they did with Agent Orange.
Back then, a generation ago, tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans suffered unnecessarily because of neglect and malfeasance by similar deceitful and unscrupulous government officials. They suffered for years just like our Desert Storm heroes and their families.
The VA disappeared Leisure with the old bureaucratic Reduction in Force ploy. The thinking went that if the mandarins could get rid of the whistle-blower, the medical problems that were killing and crippling our Gulf War vets would go away too.
Leisure rejects the hypocritical VA claim that the sickness that has brought down as many as two hundred thousand Gulf War veterans and their families is all in their heads. The physical abnormalities she has found while treating over 700 veterans and their wives and children don't lie.
"This is a very dark era for federal medicine," say Leisure. "It's a new disease with new problems combined with chemical warfare, biological warfare and unknown agents in the desert. But federal officials think the enemy is the veterans and the people who are trying to help them."
Leisure was zapped because she had the guts to tell Congress and the press how "terribly managed" and corrupt the Gulf vet's health program is. She is guilty of providing medical data and medical truth rather than crawling under a rock to save her job. She wouldn't play politics or the propaganda games or lie. She's old fashioned and still lives by her Hippocratic oath - a rare thing in 1990's medical-rip-off America where the slickies and quickies win all the marbles by lying, cheating and stealing. And sadly, few citizens seem to care.
Michael Rotko, special counsel to the Senate's VA Committee, says that not only is the health of thousands of Gulf vets at stake, but so is the "credibility of the U.S. government."
Leisure adds "that liberty and academic freedom are also threatened by today's Persian Gulf health fiasco and the suppression of medical data" To prevent her research from being published, the VA sacked a medical editor.
But Leisure knows there is more than one way to skin a bureaucrat fat cat, and she's self-publishing a handy dandy little medical guidebook: Desert Wisdom: What Everyone Treating Persian Gulf Veterans Needs to Know.
Leisure is a heroine who isn't giving up. She continues to look after her wounded veterans on a pro bono basis. She says "There are so many unanswered questions Yet our federal officials continue to waste millions of dollars studying healthy Persian Gulf vets, avoiding productive studies on sick Gulf vets, and denying the health problems in unwell Gulf vets and their families."
But now help may be on the way. The Government Accounting Office - along with a few U.S senators like Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is one of the few truth-tellers in our corrupt capital - supports everything Leisure has been saying. It recently zapped the government for their coverup and found that there is "substantial evidence" linking chemical weapons and infectious diseases spread by parasites as possible causes of the illness, and these symptoms sometimes don't surface for years.
Leisure worries that the GAO report will be buried and the rats in government will win. And she has a legitimate concern. If we the people allow our federal government to continue to act as a law unto themselves, then I guess we'll deserve what we get.
In Nazi Germany the Leisures were among the first to be put on the train. Thank God that hasn't happened here, but the health and care of our Desert Storm vets won't improve until brave Dr. Leisure is rehired and the truth is accepted and acted upon.