Garrison, a 28-year-old from Leavenworth, experienced debilitating muscle pain for several days and was hospitalized at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility. He left with a cane that he was still using last month.
After multiple wartime deployments to Afghanistan as an infantryman and a supply specialist, Garrison has health conditions that are explainable: traumatic brain injury from the concussive blasts of explosives and post-traumatic stress disorder from the strain of combat. But he also has conditions that are harder to explain: nerve twitches, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, chronic prostatitis, low testosterone.
Many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts believe their health was affected by exposure to the burn pits and other potential environmental hazards. But there is not enough data to determine whether that exposure caused or contributed to the health problems they are struggling with now that they are home.
It took decades for the military to assess the health damage done by Agent Orange, a mix of chemicals used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam and Korea while American troops were fighting in those countries.