Welcome to Poisoned Veterans
My name is Sal Caiozzo and I am a Fort McClellan veteran. I enlisted in the Army in 1982 for MP School, B10. That’s me on the right in the picture below. Squad leader, always pushing to be the best I could be… until a run on Cardiac Hill at Fort Mac. I thought I’d pulled a groin muscle. I fell out and fell down. Noble Army Hospital said it was a fistula. They did surgery and medically discharged me with a small disability rating.
My career didn’t end there. I was employed by the government and attached to the US Navy. For over 15 years I lived in the Mediterranean covering North Africa and the Middle East. It was during that time that I met my wife. Then our son was born, a beautiful baby boy. He was diagnosed with cancer at age 3. Ewing sarcoma, a bone cancer, in his jaw. At the time, I thought nothing of what the doctor said, “An unusual place for this type of cancer.” He survived but lost part of his jaw and is still awaiting the reconstructive surgery they couldn’t do while he was still growing. We have two more children, all of them are nearly grown now. Each has had unexplainable medical issues, issues that don’t run in my wife’s or my family. It’s a story I have heard from many veterans of Fort McClellan.
My own medical issues didn’t become apparent until 3-4 years ago. I brushed it off until I couldn’t. I couldn’t walk without pain. The fatigue was unbearable. When you’re the breadwinner of the family, and you can’t work, it changes you. I always thought I could handle anything life threw at me. Lost my business, lost my house, my wife and kids went to live with her family for awhile. I went with her for awhile and came back to try to rebuild what I had lost. Thankfully, in 2015, I was able to once again put a roof over our heads and get my family back together.
Now, my cane is my right leg. The scar tissue from the surgery at Noble Army Hospital is extensive. That left the fatigue and overall pain. My diagnoses from the VA Hospital are: Fibromyalgia, IBS, peripheral neuropathy, dermatitis, tinnitus, parathyroid symptoms, liver steatosis, high triglycerides.
In October of 2014, I was told I had nodules in my thyroid. My thyroidectomy was the following month. The nodules were pre-cancerous. I will be taking thyroid medication the rest of my life.
But that’s the least of it. I didn’t recover well after the surgery. I was sent to the The War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) clinic for answers last year (2015) where they diagnosed several things that were not true such as pre-diabetes, and they biopsied my muscles due to blood test results showing that I was rapidly losing non-cardiac muscle tissue. The diagnosis on this is small fiber neuropathy. It is another one of those diseases without a cure and it will take away my ability to move.
Finally, a doctor really looked at my blood work. I have had too many red blood cells for several years, slowly but surely climbing. Why didn’t the VA notice? Why wasn’t it flagged? How could years of high red cell counts go unnoticed? The new diagnosis: Polycythemia vera. The cure? No cure. I now have not only the synthroid daily, I have to give a pint of blood 2x per week.
Early in this “What the heck is wrong with me?” mess, I was reading “Law Enforcement Today” and came across an article written by a former MP, Elizabeth Dilts, who trained at Fort McClellan. In it, she wrote, “In short, if you were stationed at Ft. McClellan between 1933 and 1999, you were exposed to these chemicals and possibly ionizing radiation if you were at the firing range. The only question is how it will affect you.”
I went online and found several social media Fort McClellan groups and web pages with other people discussing very similar health issues. Could they be related to toxins in the environment? Could our children’s medical issues be related to our exposure? Why didn’t anyone tell us? More importantly, what can I do?
That’s how Poisoned Veterans came to be. I am a registered lobbyist which allows me access to people in the government. I have experience dealing with the government. I know how things work and how to get the job done.