STORIES AND PORTRAITS OF U.S. MILITARY VETERANS, AND THEIR FAMILIES, WHO WERE STATIONED AT FORT MCCLELLAN. FORT MCCLELLAN WAS A U.S. ARMY INSTALLATION NEAR ANNISTON, ALABAMA - LABELED AMERICA’S MOST TOXIC TOWN. OPENED IN 1917, THE INSTALLATION SERVED AS A MAIN LOCATION OF NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS TRAINING, TESTING AND STORAGE. THOUSANDS OF FORT MCCLELLAN VETERANS ARE CURRENTLY REPORTING A RANGE OF DEBILITATING TO LIFE THREATENING HEALTH ISSUES THAT THEY BELIEVE ARE CONNECTED TO HAZARDS THEY WERE EXPOSED TO WHILE STATIONED THERE. HERE'S THE REST OF THE STORY…

Wade Schools - PFC, Chemical Corps, U.S. Army

Wade Schools - PFC, Chemical Corps, U.S. Army

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Wade enlisted in the Army right after high school. 

“You know I came from middle class, maybe low middle class…and I always wanted to be a soldier. As a little kid I always ran around, played Army in the yard, so I thought what do I have to lose, why not.”

In August 1993, he arrived at Fort McClellan where he stayed for training until the end of January 1994.

Just a few weeks into his time at Fort McClellan, Wade began feeling ill. He was worried about telling his Drill Sergeants that he was sick, but felt so bad that he had no other choice. He was hospitalized with a 102-degree fever and diagnosed with Bronchitis. In the hospital, he encountered another soldier from his company with the same symptoms. 

"The average temperature outside was in the mid 80's when I got bronchitis. Not sure how many people get Bronchitis in hot weather, but I find it odd,” Wade said. “And according to Mayo Clinic, toxic exposure could cause bronchitis." 

After 3 days, he and the other soldier were released back to training. Soon after returning to training Wade became nauseous and vomited. He didn’t report his continued illness to his Drill Sergeants or return to sick call out of fear of being “recycled” – having to repeat his training due to absence, a fear common to all soldiers undergoing military training. Wade then began experiencing a chronic feeling of low grade fever, aches and pains.

The feeling of low-grade fever and body aches and pains have followed Wade through the years, accompanied by a chronic dry mouth and sore throat. He has been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, GERD, and Gout. He has breathing issues, sleep apnea and recurring Bronchitis that returns at least once a year. His health problems, that include cervical spine issues from an incident while in the service – and chronic low energy make it hard to exercise. He's gone from 160 lbs when he joined the Army to 340 lbs. Wade is embarrassed about his weight issues. "I'm afraid people will think I'm just lazy, but I'm really not.”  He suspects thyroid problems are also connected to his weight and is hoping for medical help with it. His severe acid reflux causes dental problems for him and he’s had to have many of his teeth pulled. He’s 44 years old and says he feels like he's 80.

Jasper Ussery - Master Sergeant, Medic, U.S. Army

Jasper Ussery - Master Sergeant, Medic, U.S. Army