An anthrax vaccine made this JBLM soldier seriously ill. The Army still made her take it 3 times, lawsuit says

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Emel Bosh (Faceebook photo)

A 35-year-old Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier has sued the United States, alleging she was forced to get anthrax vaccines that made her seriously ill.

Emel Bosh said she had to get the vaccine three times, even after she objected when they started making her more and more sick.

Court records allege she had 20 to 25 "life-threatening seizures" after the final vaccine and that the vaccines weren't necessary because the chemical specialist wasn't scheduled to deploy to a high-risk area.

Madigan Army Medical Center sent The News Tribune's request for comment about Bosh's lawsuit to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson referred the newspaper to its court filings in the case.


The government has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing in part in its motion that due to Feres v. United States "and a long line of binding precedent, claims by active duty personnel arising out of their service, and derivative claims by their estates or family members, are barred."

"... even accepting the version of the facts set forth in Plaintiffs' complaint, Plaintiffs have failed to state a constitutional claim," one of the government's filings says.

The so-called Feres Doctrine, which prevents military members from suing the United States in connection to their service, made local news earlier this year.

The family of a Navy nurse who died after giving birth in Bremerton argued that they should be able to sue for medical malpractice. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case in May, The Seattle Times reported.

A House bill introduced in April seeks to make an exception for medical malpractice cases.

Bosh argues the Feres Doctrine doesn't apply to her case because the vaccine was "very likely applied in a discriminatory manner based on Emel's experience," one of her court filings says.

It goes on to say: "... many of the actions taken by her superiors, both in Missouri and in Washington state, amount to deliberate, intentional harassment, discrimination, and possibly criminal activity, if it can be shown that the forced administration of the anthrax vaccine was due to her religious background or in working as a female chemical specialist."

Bosh was stationed in Missouri after basic training and ultimately served at JBLM as a chemical specialist.

"... her injuries stem from the illegal activity, forcing only her, a highly educated female immigrant from a predominately Muslim country, to undergo an unnecessary 'medical' treatment despite her explicit refusals, and not from activities incident to service," the court filing says.

She came to the United States from Turkey in 2012 to complete a master's degree and later decided that she wanted to serve in the military.

"Being educated and having multiple language skills, I thought it would be a good career path for me," she told The News Tribune.

Her lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, ended up in U.S. District Court in Tacoma in July.

It gives this account of what happened:

Bosh had flu-like symptoms after she first got the vaccine in December 2017 at Madigan Army Medical Center.

She asked to be excused from the second vaccine in April 2018 but wasn't. After that vaccine, she had vomiting, went to the emergency room with migraine headaches and was ill for eight or nine days.

"Before her third vaccination, Emel explained to her provider that she had significant adverse reactions to the previous two anthrax vaccines and again requested a waiver, but she was told that she is a soldier and that she is required to receive the vaccine and that her past would not qualify her for an exemption," the lawsuit says. "She not only pleaded with the doctor, but also to the patient advocate and her chain of command — which did not support the immunization due to her previous reaction(s)."

Bosh transferred units and was able to delay the third vaccine for a week. She was forced to get it Aug. 2, 2018.

"Mrs. Bosh described her past symptoms to the new unit physician and 'pleaded' to not have the 3rd dose," the lawsuit says. "She is quoted as saying, 'I have a daughter, family ... I'm scared of the symptoms getting worse' compared to her previous flu-like side effects. She felt she was forced to take the vaccination."

Again, she started vomiting. She also had bouts of shivering, chest pain and ultimately seizures.

The lawsuit said she had one "episode consisting of eyes rolling upward then 'flickering,' body shivering, hands crossed over chest slightly to the left, and curled in a fetal position."

She was taken to the emergency room and discharged the next day.

The day after that she had another bout of "seizure-like shaking" and went back to the hospital.

She started having five or six of the episodes daily.

"Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. requested Mrs. Bosh's presence there, after the military admitted that it should not have administered the anthrax vaccination contrary to her objections, but she was not permitted to go as she was told by her providers and chain of command that this did not need to elevate outside of JBLM and that the incident 'should stay in the family,'" the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint says informed consent is required for the anthrax vaccine and that Bosh never gave it.

"In fact, she refused informed consent and that refusal is in her records," the lawsuit says.

Her husband and child also have suffered, the lawsuit says. Her 12-year-old daughter twice helped paramedics carry Bosh out of their home.

Other service members have had trouble after getting anthrax vaccines in the past, according to Bosh's complaint.

"According to a survey by Congress's General Accounting Office (GAO), 85 percent of troops who received an anthrax shot had an adverse reaction, a rate far higher than the 30 percent claimed by the manufacturer in 2000 when the survey was conducted," the lawsuit says. "Sixteen percent of the survey respondents had either left the military or changed their status, at least in part because of the vaccination program."

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©2019 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

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Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

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