Toxic breast milk. Contaminated umbilical cords. Testicular cancer. Organ failure.
These are just some of the side effects of the chemical compounds that have poisoned drinking and groundwater sources at dozens of military bases across the country, according to a major government study that the White House and Environmental Protection Agency sought to keep from the American public.
After a March DoD report to the House Armed Service Committee revealed that at least 126 U.S. military installations tested at “higher than acceptable" concentrations of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in military firefighting foam in water supplies, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted its first-ever in-depth analysis on the health impacts of the chemicals.
According to the HHS study, the health effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals in humans include pregnancy complications, liver damage, high cholesterol, decreased response to vaccines, and an increased risk of thyroid disease, asthma diagnosis, and long-term fertility issues. Even more alarming, PFAS chemicals can contaminate human breast milk and umbilical cord blood, massively increasing the potential of birth defects among affected fetuses.
The effects on laboratory animals are just as alarming. An analysis of 187 studies of PFAS exposure in laboratory animals revealed "liver toxicity, developmental toxicity, and immune toxicity" — as well as total organ failure. But even worse, comparisons between human and animal exposures reveal it takes human beings four years to expel toxins that rodents purge in just a few hours.
If you want a visceral portrait of the horrifying impact of PFAS contamination, I highly recommend this jaw-dropping reporting from Military Times' Tara Copp, who spent the last several weeks speaking to veterans and their families who have had their lives destroyed by chronic issues that are likely connected to years of exposure to the chemicals. In one case, Copp spoke to a female airman who was told "don’t get pregnant at George Air Force Base" when she PCSed there in the mid-1970s.
"You rely on the service to keep you safe," she told Copp. "And although there’s no guarantee of safety, when you’re stateside you certainly don’t expect toxic exposure.”
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
A marble statue memorializing the founder of the U.S. Army Airborne was set on fire Thursday in North Carolina, and museum officials believe it happened because vandals confused it for a Confederate memorial, according to the Dunn Daily Record and other media outlets.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009, in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer)