The Gulf War Syndrome and the Over-looked Vaccine Connection

Scoop | 10 March 2016

By Gary G. Kohls, MD

“Gulf War Syndrome refers to the complex of symptoms that affects veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War at significantly excess rates. It is characterized by multiple diverse symptoms not explained by established medical diagnoses or standard laboratory tests, symptoms that typically include a combination of memory and concentration problems, persistent headache, unexplained fatigue, and widespread pain, and can also include chronic digestive difficulties, respiratory symptoms, and skin rashes.”

“…the biological effects of different combinations of pyridostigmine bromide (PB), multiple pesticides, low-level nerve agents, oil and dense smoke from burning wells, depleted uranium (DU) weaponry dust, fuel vapors, exhaust from tent heaters, Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC) paint, airborne particulates, infectious agents, and receipt of multiple vaccines, experienced concurrently or over a brief time period, are unknown. Many have suggested that unknown and difficult-to-characterize effects may have been precipitated by an ‘exposure cocktail’ or ‘toxic soup’ effect during Gulf War deployment.”

“Non-deployed veterans who reported getting vaccines…had significantly higher rates of symptoms in several domains (chronic somatic pain, neurological, and gastrointestinal problems) and a nearly four-fold higher rate of Gulf War illness than non-deployed veterans who did not receive vaccines. Veterans who served in theater, by comparison, had Gulf War illness symptoms at 11 times the rate of non-deployed veterans who did not receive vaccines.” – The above three quotes have been excerpted from the 465 page VA scientific document concerning the soldier victims of Gulf War I. There was very little mention of the now-well-known toxic effects of aluminum adjuvants in the document, which can be accessed at: (


Recently I attended a seminar at an area college that dealt with how such a college campus might be more welcoming to Gulf War veterans who are enrolling at relatively high rates, thanks to the GI Bill. The faculty did a good job of discussing the many obstacles that every returning veteran faces when he or she returns to domestic life, including academic life. I did notice that there were some important medical issues that were not discussed, but medical issues were beyond the areas of expertise of the seminar presenters and probably not expected to be part of the discussion.

I actually am quite familiar with the situations that colleges are facing when it comes to traumatized or toxified veterans in academia. Not only had I studied posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for several decades as a part of my medical practice and teaching experiences, but I also practiced as a physician at a mental hospital for 2 ½ years in the late 1990s. Following that, I spent nearly a decade practicing holistic mental healthcare.

During that practice experience, I dealt with literally hundreds of patients with both full-blown and partial expressions of PTSD (domestic as well as military victims of severe psychological trauma). Significantly, most of those patients had never been previously diagnosed with PTSD, a very easily diagnosable disorder.

Simultaneous with the time that I had my independent holistic mental healthcare practice, I also taught – for 6 semesters – an upper level psychology class at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The course was titled “The Science and Psychology of the Body-Mind Connection”.

In that class, I spent a lot of time teaching my students (who were mostly juniors, seniors or graduate students (destined for psychology or sociology careers) about the realities of PTSD (especially the combat-induced variety). We also discussed the root causes of violence, the basic neuroscience of the brain, how neurotoxic psychiatric drugs work at the synapse level and the science and healing qualities of optimum brain nutrition.

During the course, I had my students watch and then write papers on “Beyond Vietnam” (a powerful Veterans for Peace video about the psychological consequences of combat war), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, all powerful films that nicely illustrated the realities of PTSD (which is all too-often mis-diagnosed as a mental illness “of unknown cause” and therefore mis-treated). The vast majority of my students rated the class mostly 5s out of 5 in their end-of-semester evaluations of the course.

Over those six semesters, two Gulf War I veterans (that I knew of) enrolled in my class. Both of them missed lectures and also missed handing in some papers. They usually failed to participate in class discussions and ultimately both abruptly withdrew before the end of the semester without warning or asking my counsel. I never found out the real reasons why they withdrew. I think that they both dropped out of college entirely.


As careful readers of my Duty to Warn column understand, I have over the last year become well-versed with the recent basic science-generated neuro-toxicology studies that indict any number of psychiatric drugs and also various common vaccine ingredients for contributing to autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders and mental dysfunction (and even damage to brain tissue).

One of the realities of American military life is the rather cavalier administration of cocktails of psychiatric drugs (during the deployment or post-deployment phases) and multiple vaccinations (pre-deployment and again during deployment). Usually, for military efficiency, vaccines are given in batches, often on the same day, with boosters often given later.

One of the vaccines that were routinely given to Gulf War I and II soldiers prior to deployment (in addition to many other vaccines), was an experimental anthrax vaccine, which had never been approved for use in humans by the FDA. Some of the soldiers received multiple anthrax shots, each one containing an aluminum adjuvant and sometimes squalene (adjuvants are included in most vaccines to boost the immune response, which is generally weak without an adjuvant). Squalene is a 30 carbon Omega-2 fatty acid that has powerful adjuvant properties. It is extracted from the liver of deep water sharks in impure form.

Unfortunately (unappreciated by military authorities) aluminum adjuvants are well-known to unexpectedly cause a hyper-immune response in both animal lab subjects and humans, thus causing autoimmune disorders of various types. This reality is thought to explain the epidemic of autoimmune disorders in fully vaccinated individuals, including the epidemic of chronic illnesses in fully vaccinated children all across the nation. See one of the abstracts below that summarizes a well-designed study that introduces a newly-described syndrome, the Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants), aka ASIA(or Shoenfeld’s Syndrome).

Other studies that are abstracted in the second half of this article explain why aluminum adjuvants could be expected to cause autoimmune disorders. (Recall that the aluminum and other adjuvants that are in vaccines are there specifically to increase the immunogenicity of the main vaccine ingredient, usually a viral protein antigen.)


“An autoimmune disorder is a disease in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues, leading to the deterioration or destruction of such tissue.”

Vaccines are usually injected into muscle tissue (usually the thigh muscles of babies or the deltoid muscles of older folks) where there also happens to be a mixture of normal endothelial tissue, vascular tissue, nerve tissue, collagen, DNA, mitochondria, platelets, white blood cells and myelin (the fatty sheath that insulates some nerves).

Any adjuvants in the vaccines (which are intended to make the body’s immune system build up antibodies against the antigen that is targeted, – such as HPV, DPT, influenza viruses, pneumococcal antigens, etc) can now inadvertently cause those previously normal tissues to be regarded as foreign by the immune system, which will then attack them (the very definition of autoimmune disorders above).

At any rate feeling qualified to offer my opinions to the above-noted college seminar audience, I spoke briefly to the group, hoping to shed some light on the worthy veteran’s project.

Later in the day, in a follow-up email to the college’s faculty, I tried to enlarge and clarify my concerns in a statement that read something like this:

“Hello, I was the commenter that followed the seminar earlier today. As you probably could sense, I sensed an urgency to speak to the audience, especially the Veterans Task Force members that hosted the event and the veteran students in the audience (most of whom had unfortunately left by the time I spoke). I wanted to relay to you some details about the tremendous progress that is being made in understanding the root causes – and therefore the rational treatment – of the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) that has been published in the basic science research literature.

“Many investigators into the GWS epidemic are becoming increasingly aware of the new research that concerns the adverse physical, neurological and psychiatric effects of the many military toxins that affected many, if not all, Gulf War vets. See the list above.

“Among the examples of military toxins that I as a physician am most familiar with are the physician-prescribed psych drug cocktails (never proven for safety or efficacy in any population, including the military population) and the physician-prescribed vaccines (also never proven for safety or efficacy, especially when given in combinations).

“Any of those ‘drugs’ can cause physical illnesses as well as neurotoxic illnesses (and thus psychotoxic illnesses) in some form or another. Given the multitude of toxic exposures that all soldiers experience after induction, one can expect that the academic preparedness of Gulf War veterans will also be adversely affected.
“Of course, every investigator into the psychology and neurology of GWS understands that there are many potential contributing factors other than toxic drugs or toxic vaccines. Just consider the effects of the acute and chronic physical, emotional, psychiatric and neurological stresses that every combat vet experiences. Such stressors can be devastating to anybody, but each victim will react totally different from the next.

“Combat vets from each of America’s most infamous and most tragic undeclared high tech wars (Vietnam and Gulf Wars I & II) commonly experience chronically elevated (and therefore potentially brain-altering) cortisol and adrenalin levels, but Vietnam vets also suffered from exposure to Agent Orange, a seriously neurotoxic and carcinogenic herbicide that seriously damages the body’s mitochondria.

“Gulf War vets were exposed to neurotoxic pesticides, just like Vietnam vets were, but they perhaps might have been somewhat less toxic and shorter-acting than the infamous dioxins that were in Agent Orange.

“On the other hand, Vietnam vets were NOT exposed to the experimental Anthrax vaccines that even non-deployed Gulf War soldiers received, and Vietnam vets got far fewer vaccinations in general. GWS soldiers were heavily inoculated with vaccines that contained mercury [thimerosal] preservatives plus aluminum and squalene adjuvants) that Vietnam-era soldiers did not get.

“And, even though many Vietnam vets came back from war heroin-addicted and alcohol-dependent, they were not saturated with anywhere near the same number of potentially psychiatric drug cocktails that Gulf War vets did.

“So the issue of comprehensively helping with the academic and social performance of military veteran students (who may or may not be experiencing full-blown or partial expressions of either GWS or PTSD) is a much more complex issue that any faculty member can be expected to comprehensively deal with, but the Task Force members must understand the situation as comprehensively as possible. I suspect that affected veteran students would thank you for doing so.

“As I mentioned in my comments earlier today, fully understanding the implications of the new research into vaccine toxicity would take hours of study. My 10 minutes of commentary was insufficient to do more than perhaps whet your appetites to learn more, but I would hope that there would be some attempt by the Task Force to be totally open to new information and to impart that information to the affected students so that they could make good use of it somehow.

“Therefore, I attach below, in the form of a handful of abstracts from several basic neuroscience journals. This information is actually just a small fraction of the new information that, as I mentioned, is not being published in mainstream medical journals (and thus is likely unappreciated by mainstream physicians).

“It needs to be said that most medical professionals don’t willingly discuss iatrogenic (physician- or treatment-caused) diseases. Nor do most medical professionals want to discuss new illnesses that they don’t yet know much about. That sort of avoidance response also seems to apply to most medical trade associations such as the AMA, the APA, the AAP, the AAFP, etc as well as most medical journal editors. But I think we all agree that any good liberal arts college should be open to – indeed should seek out – any and all new information that might assist in the solving of problematic situations that we all face daily, including what to do about the victims of Gulf War Syndrome.

“Below are seven research study abstracts that might help you and your college’s veteran’s more fully understand how they might have been adversely affected long-term by potentially neurotoxic and autoimmunity-inducing substances that were in some of the vaccines that they received, especially the experimental anthrax vaccines.” – Gary G. Kohls, MD, Duluth, MN

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