A portion of her training included bivouac, which was “like camping, only you wear war paint and carry a gun,” said Roland. They set up tents and lived outdoors, relying on streams running through the encampment for bathing, cooking and drinking water. She isn’t sure if it was because of a weakened immune system due to the respiratory infection or training on a hurt knee, but Roland’s health suffered.
And there was something Roland didn’t know: The land and water around Fort McClellan was laced with a host of human-made pollutants such as PCBs and Agent Orange. Chances are the chemicals, which studies have shown can cause lasting and sometimes devastating effects on the human body, contributed to her poor health.
Roland recalled what he told her next: “We’re going to file a claim for all of it, because — I hate to tell you this — but at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama, you were … chemically poisoned. You are literally being eaten from the inside out.”