NEWS
11/20/2011 01:38 EST | Updated 01/20/2012 05:12 EST

Military vet who went on a hunger strike concerned about treatment

QUEBEC CITY, Que. - A military veteran who went on a four-day hunger strike this month says he's worried the federal government still won't give him the treatment he requires.

Pascal Lacoste stopped starving himself after Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney arranged for him to meet with specialists.

Blaney also agreed to create a new committee to study veterans' health.

Lacoste says he and other soldiers were contaminated by depleted uranium while serving in Bosnia in the 1990s.

The 38-year-old met with the specialists last Friday and he's planning to go to a clinic in Montreal for testing later this month.

But Lacoste says his own doctor already conducted tests showing an unusually high level of uranium and he's skeptical the government will give him the care he requires.

Blaney's spokesman says he's hopeful Lacoste will accept the treatment offered to him.

In an email, Jean-Christophe de le Rue said the care Lacoste is being offered "responds to his personal and immediate needs."

The committee, comprised of academics, medical researchers and soldiers, will be set up by Dec. 8 and the first topic of study will be depleted uranium.

Lacoste blames his poor health, which includes chronic pain and a degenerative neurological disorder, on depleted-uranium poisoning.

The Veterans Affairs Department has maintained it's unlikely any Canadian troops were contaminated with depleted uranium because few, if any, ever came in contact with it while in the service.

Lacoste's doctor said tests have shown he does have an unusually high level of uranium in his hair but an independent radiation expert questions the reliability of the testing.

Depleted uranium, a leftover of uranium processing, has been used to make munitions and military armour in conflicts such as the Balkans and the first Gulf War.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization have published reports saying there is no scientific evidence to link depleted uranium to health problems.