In 1991, over 750,000 American troops returned home from Operation Desert Storm.  Unlike the distasteful return of our soldiers from Viet Nam, these brave warriors were welcomed home with great fanfare and their exploits were celebrated and their accomplishments recognized by a grateful nation.

On the surface this was a perfect war.  Minimal casualties, little controversy and maximum patriotic expressions by the American people.

Unfortunately, there was was to be a dark and sinister chapter in this conflict.  Over 175,000 of America's finest sons and daughters returned home with a series of unusual and often debilitating symptoms that became known as Gulf War Syndrome.  These patriots were mistreated and referred to as Malingerers, Malcontents and other less than flattering names.

Their very real illnesses went unrecognized by their nation and their plight was hidden from our sight and from our consciousness.. 

In spite of the fact that each of these veterans had two U.S. Senators and at least one Congressperson representing their interest, it was 2008 before a Senate report acknowledged the plight of these patriots and described their dilemma. 

Now, let us fast forward to 2010, and to another tragic event that occurred almost 20 years after the 1991 Gulf war.  

Following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, I began seeing a large number of patient who were experiencing symptoms that I had never before encountered in over 40 years of being a physician.

These patients were from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and the common denominator in their illnesses was their proximity to the Gulf Coast and their apparent exposure to products of the oil spill. There was no way for these individuals to compare notes and to make up the symptoms they were describing to me.

My efforts to treat the Gumbo of problems being experienced by my new patients met with little success, and I soon realized that other physicians were facing the same dilemma.

I received a phone call from Marylee Orr, the executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), and she mentioned that she had been contacted by an individual who offered to fund a treatment center through which could effectively treat these people with a process called "Detoxification."

I had never heard of such a procedure, and while the story was "Too Good To Be TRUE," we had nothing to lose by giving it a try and we agreed to work with the foundation on behalf of an ever increasing number of very ill men, women and children.

The treatment results we achieved were far beyond anything I could have imagined or even wished for.  We changed the lives of many of our patients and enabled most of them to return to work.

Not everything remained idyllic, however, for as soon as many of our fishermen returned to the now contaminated waters where they had fished all of their lives, a large number of them became ill once again.  Other workers and coastal residents developed similar sensitivities to their own environments.

But that's another part of the story.

During the year that the treatment center remained open, I received a call from an author who had written a book titled "They're Poisoning Us," "From the Gulf War to the Gulf of Mexico."

The author mentioned that I needed to read his book because the symptoms being experienced by our soldiers returning from the 1991 Gulf War were very similar to those being experienced by my patients.

His book was quite informative and it led me to begin doing a great deal of reading on the subject.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, over 175,000 American patriots returned from the war in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with what became known as "Gulf War Syndrome." Their thanks for risking and, in some cases, losing their lives for our freedom was for them to face ridicule and be labeled as being complainers and malingerers and to have their health issues ignored by our government.

In an all too predicable and very similar manner, the victims of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy (who share identical symptoms with the victims of the 1991 Gulf War) are being ignored, maligned, marginalized and literally buried alive by the same type of political shenanigans that had been experienced by our returning soldiers.

The following is a short explanation of how our fellow citizens are being victimized by the political and corporate interests that control our lives.

At the end of 2011, Federal District Court Judge Carl Barbier appointed a panel of 19 attorneys to a committee that was referred to as the "Plaintiff Steering Committee or PSC."  This panel was enjoined with the responsibility of negotiating with BP over the terms of a settlement that would provide the basis for a class action lawsuit against this foreign corporation.

Basically, the PSC had the responsibility of representing the interest of the victims of the oil spill in their complaints against this multi-national oil company.

When the proposed agreement between the PSC and the plaintiffs was first released, it became immediately apparent that the medical portion of the settlement was not in the best interest of the victims of the oil spill.

Worse than that, it appeared that the extremely serious problems that I had been witnessing on a dailly basis were COMPLETELY eliminated from consideration in the agreement.

Since members of the PSC had many clients who were also my patients, there is no question that they were aware, or that they should have been aware, of the seriousness of the illnesses that were being experienced by a large number of the individuals they supposedly represented.

  If you will refer to the dated letters that are included under "Mike Robichaux Letters" above, you will find copies of the five different letters that I sent to the Federal judge who was overseeing the settlement.  These letters were submitted to Judge Carl Barbier in an effort to inform him of our observations and to request that he not approve of any settlement that ignored the very serious and very dangerous illnesses being experienced by victims of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

Mike Robichaux

© Michael Robichaux 2013