Many OEF/OIF Veterans recall taking medication for malaria while in service. However, malaria medication use in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq has been under fire for the potential health consequences associated with the drug mefloquine, which many Veterans took while deployed. However, many Veterans struggle to get disability compensation for conditions they believe are related to the drug.
While these claims are handled on a case-by-case basis, some Veterans have been successful in their fight for disability compensation related to mefloquine side effects. If you believe your medication caused a side effect that you are still dealing with today, you should talk to your doctor about whether your condition could be related to military service.
Very few Americans were even aware of combat operations in Somalia until the 2001 movie “Black Hawk Down”. December of 1992 President Bush ordered 28,000 troops to Somalia. This action was named “Operation Restore Hope”. Rival warlords were preventing UN distribution of humanitarian aid and thousands were at risk of starvation. For 15 months American troops were involved with this mission. The Somali civilian war eventually led to America’s bloodiest battle since Vietnam.
Do to the very real threat of malaria the troops were given varying dozes of medications, including Mefloquine. This was the first large-scale use of Mefloquine by the United States Military. Sadly, a significant percentage of American military personnel suffered life changing side effects.
Mefloquine has been associated with a variety of different illnesses. Among the side effects most reported by military personnel are chronic psychiatric and neurological symptoms.
Studies have shown that mefloquine toxicity mimics symptoms normally seen in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Of course, this can complicate claims for service connection.
This medication was also used during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon did not change its position on Mefloquine until 2009. The FDA added a black box warning to the Mefloquine label on July 29, 2013. If you were given medication for malaria while in the service and you are experiencing medical and/or mental health symptoms, please consult with your Doctor and file a claim for service connection.
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