On 26 September, after a 10-year battle, veteran Alex Izett, 36, forced the Ministry of Defence to concede that he is suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.
In a precedent setting case, Mr Izett is the first veteran to be acknowledged as suffering from the syndrome even though he was never deployed to the Gulf. His victory opens the way for thousands of veterans suffering from ill health to claim war pensions and compensation for the way the Ministry of Defence (MoD) destroyed their health.
In 1991, in preparation for deployment to the Gulf war, Mr Izett received nine vaccinations in 24 hours. The war ended before his deployment, and his body started to disintegrate soon after. The former lance corporal tried to commit suicide twice after developing osteoporosis, paralysis, and kidney problems.
He now suffers from depression, walks with a stick, his teeth are falling out, and his bones are so weak he has broken his knee-cap, shoulder and ribs.
In 2004 Mr Izett, who lives in Bersenbruck, Germany, went on a 40-day hunger strike to force the MoD to hold a public inquiry into Gulf War Syndrome. Though the MoD refused, and tried to deny the existence of the syndrome, his hunger strike precipitated a campaign which won an independent (non-governmental) public inquiry.
Mr Izett said:
“My family, Gina, Christian and Sabrina, have suffered with me. Had it not have been for them then I am sure I would never have lived on to see this glorious day! I would like to thank them, as I do my mum, dad, sister and aunt for their continuous and appreciated help. I would also like to thank my dear friends at Payday who cared for me during the full duration of my 40-day hunger strike.”
The War Pensions Appeal Tribunal has now ruled that he has Gulf War Syndrome. The MoD’s denial of his condition meant that if he died, his wife Gina, 39, would get nothing.
Mr Izett further commented on his victory:
“The MoD have done nothing for me in the past 16 years. However, my dear friends and family gave me faith, more so strength to live on and carry on my battle for justice against the MoD.”
The ruling confirms that Gulf War Syndrome exists and establishes once and for all that vaccinations are clearly a cause. The price the MoD will have to pay for their criminal disregard of human life is not big: they must pay his dental bills, and the Veterans Agency will decide whether Mr Izett will be awarded the full £124-a-week pension, not a royal sum for causing continuing ill-health.