|Historic Legal Victory For Gulf War Families in Britain|
VICTORY OFFERS HOPE FOR GULF WAR FAMILIES
By Ben Borland
A HISTORIC legal victory for a Scottish widow has paved the way for relatives of Gulf War Syndrome victims to receive a full military pension.
Royal Navy veteran Michael Kozak, 56, died during a heart operation in hospital in 2003 due to an extreme reaction to the anaesthetic caused by his hypertension.
But, in an unprecedented ruling, a military tribunal sitting in Edinburgh has declared his death was a direct result of his war service, despite coming 13 years after the end of the first Iraq conflict.
Sandra Kozak, who will now be granted a war widow’s pension, called the result a “huge victory” for her late husband.
“It is the first breakthrough for veterans,” she said. “Everybody’s circumstances are different but hopefully this opens the door for others.”
Mr Kozak, who had 22 years’ naval service, had suffered from hypertension ever since he was given nerve gas protection (NAPS) tablets while serving on an ammunition vessel in the Gulf. He went on to campaign for compensation for Gulf veterans with serious health problems caused by the untested drugs, as well as a cocktail of other chemicals that troops came into contact with.
The Ministry of Defence has always denied that Gulf War Syndrome exists, despite an independent inquiry in 2004 that found 6,000 British veterans had suffered ill-health as a result of the war.
The Pensions Appeal Tribunal for Scotland ruled his death was “attributable to service” and was “due to or hastened by” him taking the tablets.
Yesterday, Mrs Kozak, of Kirkmahoe, Dumfriesshire, said: “Michael would be over the moon. All those veterans were told for years there was nothing wrong with them when they knew there was.
“Michael knew something was terribly wrong, he had been in the Royal Navy for all those years, he believed in his country but he was abandoned. That was a dreadful, shameful thing.”