During World War II approximately 60,000 soldiers were used in mustard gas experiments to show the effects that mustard gas and other chemicals would have on the human body. These experiments were considered classified and top secret, not noted on the individual military records, and left soldiers unable to receive proper medical treatment or compensation. It was not until 1991 that the mustard gas experiments were acknowledged by federal officials, who claimed that they would do everything they could to get in touch with the subjects who were exposed, and compensate them. Instead, it appears that the search was done with minimal effort at best. Those veterans who were found could not bring a lawsuit for benefits and compensation because of the Feres Doctrine.
Due to the secrecy of the experiments, the subjects had no way to prove that they had been exposed, and therefore did not receive treatment. Now, those that survive tell stories of the ailments they have had to endure as a result of the study. Many of these young men had no idea what they were going to be experimented on. They were herded into chambers with gas masks, gas was piped in, and they were left in there to suffer the affects. Many of them had blisters the size of half-dollars, for those who were subjected to the gas in the fields, their skin would rot and fall off. Several of them suffered from leukemia, skin cancer, and chronic breathing problems. This all in the name of finding the “ideal chemical soldier” and never mind being concerned about the young men were willing to die for their country.
The Feres Doctrine & Mustard Gas Experiments
This old tale of not protecting soldiers rights brings to light an interesting judicial doctrine, which was created in 1950, and is referred to as the Feres Doctrine. The doctrine essentially states that if an active duty soldier is injured while serving, they have no legal recourse against the Federal Government. This however does not include Veterans who have been injured once discharged from service. Our firm is currently involved in a case, which we hope will overturn this unfair law that protects the government from being held accountable for neglect. Any civilian would have the right to be compensated. But in this case, the young men and women who are willing to fight for their country are left vulnerable and defenseless.
If you have questions regarding the Feres Doctrine, please feel free to contact our office.