The neglect and abuse of American military veterans is well-known. Unnecessary conflicts, multiple deployments, and sluggish medical care have inflicted irreparable damage upon millions of the country’s finest men and women. But the atrocities don’t stop there. As explored in the new documentary Used and Betrayed, produced by the acclaimed Empire Files series, the United States military has a long and shameful history of exploiting brave soldiers as guinea pigs in a number of shocking experiments.
The film sifts through a series of declassified documents to present the circumstances and consequences surrounding several of these experiments. Each case showcases a sinister disregard for the lives of those who serve their country.
The film’s accounts begin during World War I as over sixty thousand African American troops were subjected to chemical experiments in an attempt to gauge their effectiveness on the front line of warfare. The long-term health effects were not taken into account until many years later in 1993 when the facts behind these top-secret experiments were first unveiled to the public. At that time, only a little over 600 of these troops were located and offered appropriate medical care for their resulting ailments.
The list of barbaric horrors goes on. According to the evidence presented in the film, the military would perform lobotomies on afflicted veterans prior to the discovery of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. First mounted in the 1950s under Central Intelligence Agency director Allen Dulles, the MKUltra Project subjected unsuspecting citizens – including many military troops – to a series of drug-induced mind control experiments. As a result of questionable combat mission conditions, Gulf War veterans have suffered from a host of conditions from memory loss to various cancers. In each case, the government has been slow to acknowledge their role in perpetuating these illnesses or to provide assistance in treating them.
With damning anger and urgency, Used and Betrayed advocates for full transparency from the government on these and other missions throughout history. And that reparations be given to troops and families who have suffered so direly as a result. That’s the only way we can truly support the troops.