FORT BRAGG — After fighting for their country during the Gulf War, many soldiers feel they now have to fight for information on what, exactly, happened to them in the Mideast.
Top Pentagon leaders now admit a large number of troops may have been exposed to fallout from chemical weapons. It is believed many of those affected are from Fort Bragg. A Gulf War Health Program hotline has been set up. The number for veterans to call for help is 1-910-396-4871.
Many of those soldiers have claimed for several years they thought they were exposed to something that made them and their families sick. They want to know what it was and why they were lied to about it.
David Hayworth, of Hope Mills, says he has many questions and that he experienced many symptoms common to those who have been sick since the war ended, such as moodiness, nervousness and joint pain. Now a firefighter, Hayworth says he's been in pain ever since the war, and he's tired of being brushed off by the government.
Some soldiers say the number of soldiers affected by chemical warfare is much higher than the 15,000 figure released by the Pentagon. Hayworth says the threat of chemical weaponry was constant.
Hayworth says he is only one of many who are living with both physical pain and the pain of not knowing what has happened to them.
For now, the Pentagon is not sharing information with Fort Bragg. They are contacting soldiers individually, but Hayworth says he has not been contacted yet.
He says he, and others, hope the Pentagon's admission is a first step toward a full disclosure on what's called Gulf War Syndrome.