11/09/2011 12:53 EST | Updated 01/09/2012 05:12 EST

Gulf War Syndrome: Veterans Skeptical Of Ottawa's Pledge To Examine Depleted Uranium Exposure


OTTAWA - Veterans' advocates are skeptical of a federal government promise to study the effects of exposure to depleted uranium after years of ignoring their pleas to recognize the issue.

Louise Richard, a long-time critic who says she suffers from Gulf War illness, says Veterans Affairs has persistently refused to acknowledge the health hazards and doesn't even track suspected exposures.

An ex-soldier, Pascal Lacoste, ended a hunger strike Tuesday in Levis, Que., after the veterans minister and local MP, Steven Blaney, pledged to launch a review in the next 30 days.

The minister said academics, medical researchers and soldiers will make up the panel.

Richard, who has researched uranium exposure, wants to be on the committee and says she finds it criminal that a veteran had to resort to a hunger strike to get attention.

Lacoste and other veterans blame complaints like chronic pain and neurological disorders on depleted-uranium poisoning they say they contracted during the 1990-91 Gulf War and on missions in Bosnia.