Gulf War Veteran


MARCH 21, 2003 · Julie Mock served as a dental hygienist in the Gulf War, and even though she wasn't on the front lines during her service, she was exposed to the chemicals sarine and cyclo-sarine. Since her return to the United States, she has suffered from a variety of mysterious illnesses, and her young children, born after her service, have severe neurological disorders. Over time both Julie and her husband, who also served, have come to believe that these illnesses are related in some way to their time in the Gulf. Which is why, when Julie Mock turned on the television on Wednesday night, she was so profoundly affected by what she saw. This is Julie's War Diary.

The first image I saw yesterday when I turned on the television was the same gray-looking dawn I saw 12 years ago. All in an instance, I could smell the sand, the mustiness of the tents, the dust all over. Hearing the artillery brought back that feeling of the ground vibrating when the bombs were dropped, and I really felt that feeling of needing -- this sounds silly -- needing to put something on, MOPP gear or a gas mask, needing to be protected. I hyperventilated with my mom on the phone and she kept saying, "Julie, Julie, are you OK, are you going to be OK with this?" And I just felt like you know, 'No, I'm never going to be OK with this, nothing has ever been OK since.'

My husband, when I turned the TV on last night, he looked at the TV and he just went stone cold. That's always been his way of dealing with the memories of what happened to us and the entire experience there. It's just not a place he wants to go to. He did for a little while later in the evening, I saw him watching TV by himself and he was visibly upset, he had lost that facade.

"I'm never going to be OK with this, nothing has ever been OK since."

Talking about the Gulf War has always been something difficult for us to discuss together. Part of that is probably because of the difficulties we've had with our children. He's always believed it's had something to do with my health, and certainly now we believe it has something to do with our children's health. It's certainly been a very difficult thing for him to talk about and to deal with.

I think it makes him feel just helpless. We made our choices, he feels, and this is what we have to live with.

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