Our Stories

Patron of the International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance

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Major General Alastair Duncan CBE DSO, British Army (retd)

Major General Alastair Duncan

Alastair Duncan was commissioned into The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire in 1973 and was posted to the 1st Battalion, which was then serving in Northern Ireland. His regimental service includes tours in Germany, Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Bosnia in mechanized, airportable, internal security and armoured roles. He commanded the 1st Battalion from December 1990 for three years and 19th Mechanized Brigade and Catterick Garrison from 1995 to 1997. He has been an instructor at the School of Infantry, The Royal Military College Shrivenham and a Divisional Colonel at Staff College. His staff experience was gained as a Captain in 4th Armoured Brigade and as Chief of Staff of 1st Infantry Brigade. He was Director Land Warfare in the Directorate General of Development and Doctrine for 2 years before attending RCDS in 2000. Immediately prior to his appointment as Director Infantry in July 2001 he spent 6 months as Chief of Staff of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone. His last appointment in the Army was for 3 years as Director General Training Support.

Read General Duncan’s mefloquine story here.

Dear General Duncan,

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. We’ve all been in the dark place where you are now. From your vantage point you won’t yet be able to see the the faint glow on the eastern horizon that we can. But we can assure you it’s there nonetheless.

There is certainly a fight to be had this day. But under the cover of darkness the troops have been quietly rallying. In the U.K., in the U.S., in Ireland, in Canada, and in Australia. Probably in other countries too. Fine men and women. Real soldiers.

The enemy is still formidable, but he has become complacent. We are beginning to have his measure and he has been rattled when challenged. He is led by cowards in “committees”. We are on the side of right, of justice. We are stronger than him because we are battle hardened. And we now have the initiative.

You are a proven leader and you’ve continued to lead even in your darkest hour. Stay strong and look forward to seeing the sunrise on the morning of our hard fought victory.

We would be honoured if you would accept our invitation to become our inaugural patron.

Yours Sincerely,

Troops of the International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance

October 2015

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American Flag Commander Bill Manofsky USN (retd)

Bill Manofsky

Commander Bill Manofsky USN(ret) served in  Operation Iraqi Freedom. He transfered from China Lake to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait in Dec 2002 as Officer-in-Charge over a combined civilian and military team that deployed Tactical Dissemination Module (TDM), which enabled transmission of just-in-time target packages from the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Saudi Arabia directly to tactical aircraft flying in the combat zone. He and the TDM team worked closely with Fleet F-18’s and S-3’s flying off carriers in the Persian Gulf during TDM validation. He also worked closely with the/a Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle squadron and coordinated Predator coverage for the SEAL attack on the Al Faw peninsula at the start of the Iraq war.

Under the direction of the Secretary of the Air Force and CENTCOM, Manofsky remained in Kuwait and was assigned to special forces intelligence to perform solo deployment of first prototype version of the Precision Strike Suite Special Operation Forces (PSSSOF) close air support targeting system to Army/Navy/Air Force Special Forces Forward Air Controllers (FACs). This system significantly reduced air-to-ground friendly fire incidents during the Iraq War and is the current standard for Navy SEAL, Army Special Forces, and Air Force FAC CAS missions.

While in Kuwait, Manofsky sustained a permanent brain injury from mefloquine, and was diagnosed with acute and chronic PTSD. He has been instrumental in U.S. advocacy efforts including engagement with the Food and Drug Administration that resulted in the 2013 “black box” warning that mefloquine may cause long term or permanent neurological damage. Bill is also actively involved in supporting US mefloquine veterans receiving appropriate care. Read more about his story here or contact him here.

Australian Flag Associate Professor Jane Quinn

Jane Quinn

Jane Quinn

A/Professor Jane Quinn is originally from the UK. She is a PhD neuroscientist and neurotoxicologist whose research includes natural products biochemistry and the mode of action of toxic compounds. Jane’s late husband Major Cameron Quinn was an officer in the British Army, who was given mefloquine during a training exercise in Kenya in 2001. He suffered depression and mefloquine dreams immediately, with long term personality change and continual mefloquine nightmares for years. Cameron eventually took his own life in the family home in 2006 and he is the first entry on the Roll of Honour.

Jane has been fighting for mefloquine to be removed from use in the British Forces since Cameron’s death. She relocated to Australia where she now works as a senior lecturer at Charles Sturt University and assists Australian veterans and their families to address the debilitating health effects of mefloquine. Her research on mefloquine neurotoxicity has been published in medical-scientific journals and she is frequently interviewed by the international media. In September 2001 Jane appeared as a witness before the a Senate Inquiry into the Mental Health of Australian Defence Force Personnel. Read more about her story here or contact her here.

British Flag Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Marriott MBE (retd)

Andrew Marriott

Andrew was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1977 then served with the Second Battalion in Northern Ireland, West Germany, West Berlin and the Falkland Islands. He graduated from the Pakistan Command and Staff College in 1987. Following this he served in company command and staff appointments in England, then deployed with Headquarters Royal Marines to Southern Turkey/Northern Iraq in 1991. Andrew was a staff and tactics instructor in 1991-93 and then Second in Command of First Fusiliers, including a UN and NATO tour of Bosnia in 1995-96. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1998 and appointed Commanding Officer of the Infantry Battle School, Brecon then served as Sector Commander with the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, 2001. His other operational deployments included tours as adviser and mentor to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in 2003 and 2005-06, and military liaison officer, Jerusalem in 2006-07. His UK staff appointments included Ministry of Dessence in London, the UK Joint Doctrine Centre, and Headquarters School of Infantry. Andrew retired from the British Army in 2008 and is currently pursuing academic studies in archaeology. He was appointed MBE 1990 and awarded a GOC’s Commendation for service in Northern Ireland 1981.

Andrew was prescribed mefloquine in December 2002 and immediately experienced vivid dreams and a range of other side-effects such as dizziness, loss of balance, memory loss and anger issues. He was advised by medical staff that these were within the accepted range of side-effects and that they would be only transitory, that mefloquine was the only effective anti-malarial for West Africa, so therefore was denied safer alternative drugs. His mefloquine toxicity was not pursued to diagnosis during the following years of service, although civilian consultants confirmed that the lingering side-effects were a legacy of mefloquine. The most severe and enduring outcome is the condition of nightmare disorder. Since 2003 he has not been able to sleep for longer than an hour, always waking after vivid and sometimes profoundly unpleasant dreams. He still has some periods of memory lapse and difficulties of anger control. Post-discharge, the MoD accepted that his condition was caused by using mefloquine during service in Sierra Leone. The diagnosis of nightmare disorder was conveyed to him in a routine letter signed by a civil servant. He has been tackling the MoD’s medical incompetence, negligence and cover-up since 2008. Read more about his story here or contact him here.

Australian Flag Major Stuart McCarthy

Stuart McCarthy

Stuart McCarthy

Stuart McCarthy joined the Australian Army in 1988 and continues his service as an officer to this day. Graduating from the Royal Military College – Duntroon in 1990, his diverse career has included a wide variety of roles in Australia, the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East, including extensive operational service. His early career as a engineer saw him employed as a troop commander, squadron second-in-command, junior staff officer and instructor, culminating in a posting as the Adjutant of the School of Military Engineering. In 1999 he deployed to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, as the commander of a multi-national patrol in the Peace Monitoring Group. Having lived in Bougainville as a teenager, the opportunity this deployment provided for him to contribute to the peace process in his assigned districts made this the most rewarding experience of his long career.

Towards the end of McCarthy’s Bougainville deployment he became a subject in an unethical drug trial for the antimalarial drug tafenoquine, conducted by Lieutenant Colonel (Dr) Peter Nasveld of the Australian Army Malaria Institute (AMI). Tafenoquine is a neurotoxic drug from the same class as mefloquine which, unlike mefloquine, was not and is not approved by national drug regulators. Nasveld was subsequently awarded a PhD and a James Cook University Dean’s Award for Excellence for this and other tafenoquine trials. His experiences in this trial led him to be deeply suspicious of the AMI’s activities, suspicions that were confirmed many years later. In 2009 researchers from WRAIR, the US military research institute that initially developed both drugs, found that “tafenoquine is more neurotoxic than mefloquine.”

McCarthy’s next operational deployment occurred in 2001, when he spent six months as the deputy force engineer in the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. During this period he was prescribed mefloquine, and experienced a variety of adverse side effects including depression. As is the case with many military personnel, he was unable to clearly distinguish these from the stresses of the operational environment in the demanding peacekeeping mission. When he experienced an episode of what he describes as mild suicide ideation however, he stopped taking the drug and, as per the advice from the manufacturer, assumed that there would be no long-term side effects. On his return home to Australia, McCarthy experienced severe depression, was unable to attend his new posting and was charged for absence without leave. Although the charges were eventually dropped, this episode effectively ended his prospects for future promotion.

Despite recurrent major depression and other debilitating neurological symptoms that he now realises are the result of the undiagnosed neurotoxic brain injury he sustained in 2001, McCarthy has continued to serve in the Army for a further 14 years. His postings in Australia have included executive officer of the largest engineer regiment in the Army, and he has completed operational deployments to Sumatra in 2005, Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2011-12 and 2013. When he sought further treatment for depression in early 2014, he discovered the published research on mefloquine neurotoxicity that finally explained his chronic condition. Naively, he presented the relevant papers to his doctors but was ignored, is yet to receive a proper diagnosis and has been informed by a well known neurologist that his neurological symptoms are psychosomatic. In response to this experience he drafted an outreach program for Australian veterans affected by mefloquine neurotoxicity and pursued this without success through several avenues. He eventually raised the proposal with the Australian Defence Force’s Director of Military Medicine, who told him portentously “I wish you the best of luck going forward but suspect that you will be frustrated.” McCarthy later discovered that this officer was directly involved in conducting the 2000-2002 unethical mefloquine and tafenoquine drug trials in Timor Leste. Shortly thereafter, in the first indication of the corruption that he later discovered has run rampant in the Australian Defence Force medical system for at least two decades, he was formally threatened with disciplinary action. Yet despite having had no medical training and experiencing the cognitive impairment of his brain injury, some of the research that McCarthy has undertaken in order to overcome this institutionalised corruption has since been published in medical-scientific journals.

In September 2015 McCarthy appeared with Dr Jane Quinn as a witness before the Australian Senate Inquiry into the Mental Health of Australian Defence Force Personnel. His earlier written submission described the AMI’s mefloquine and tafenoquine drug trials involving almost 3,000 personnel as “manifestly unethical” and stated that his proposed outreach program for affected veterans had “encountered a culture of denial, deceit and impunity that extends to the most senior officers in the ADF, the Assistant Minister for Defence and senior officials in several other organisations.” When this was reported in the media, the Vice Chief of the Defence Force publicly criticised him for making “unsubstantiated claims” and he was subjected to further threats by senior officers. In his opening statement to the committee he strongly criticised the Australian Defence Force leadership including Griggs:

“Was their help for those affected? No. There was a decade of lies, denial, deceit and cover-up. For those who did try to help, there were threats, intimidation and abuse. The negligence of the senior leadership of the ADF in this scandal is breathtaking. There was a complete lack of oversight of the AMI for decades. The ADF’s health system, which is supposed to provide for the health care of our 50,000 men and women in uniform, was instead co-opted to do the dirty work of the pharmaceutical industry — right under their noses. More recently, the previous Chief of Army, General Morrison, and the current Chief of Army, General Campbell, have both ignored repeated requests for help. Their integrity is now in question, just as vice Admiral Griggs’s integrity is in question.”

During the latter months of 2015, McCarthy has been instrumental in establishing the International Mefloquine Veterans Alliance, in order to expose the systematic negligence and corruption that has lead to the deaths and widespread chronic illness among coalition veterans to which he referred in his testimony. His efforts to date have uncovered a corruption scandal of historic proportions, involving not only widespread medical negligence, but systematic human rights violations, “disappearances” of military drug trial subjects, other forms of abuse, and cover-ups involving some of the most senior officers in the Australian Defence Force.

After a two and a half year fight with the Australian Defence Force medical system, in January 2016 McCarthy was diagnosed with an acquired brain injury and he has recently commenced a rehabilitation program for this condition.

Brian and Lee McCarthy

Brian and Lee McCarthy

Throughout this saga McCarthy has received the steadfast support of his parents, Brian and Lee McCarthy. With Australian Defence Force policy prohibiting McCarthy from speaking directly to the media, Brian and Lee have conveyed to the media the negligence and abuse to which their son has been subjected. Read about some of Brian’s efforts in dealing with the intransigent senior Australian Defence Force leaders, Ministers and other government officials, their denials and cover-ups in his recent interview with the Queensland Times. Read more about Stuart and Brian’s story here or contact them here.

Irish Flag Mr David O’Shea

David O'Shea

David O’Shea

Under construction.

Canadian Flag Mr John Dowe

John Dowe

John Dowe

John is a Canadian veteran who describes himself as “a commando, a boxer, an activist and a humanist.” He spent ten years in the Canadian Forces, from 1990-2000, reaching the rank of Master Corporal. In 1993 John deployed to Somalia with the Canadian Airborne Regiment and was a first-hand witness to the controversial events that became known as the Somalia Affair, in which members of the unit who were subjects in an unethical drug trial committed numerous acts of violence against local civilians while experiencing the psychotic side effects of mefloquine. These included the aftermath of the beating to death of Shidane Arone by Clayton Matchee. Following Arone’s beating, Kyle Brown, the longest witness, commented to John, “This is not who I am, John.”

Like many others, John experienced severe personality changes after taking mefloquine. He was eventually misdiagnosed with a chronic illness and released under the controversial ‘Universality of Service’ policy – a flawed Release Policy still in effect today. Years later in 2008, he would be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. His final posting was at the Royal Canadian School of Infantry, attached with the Small Arms Training Cell testing a new Small Arms Training System being introduced into the military. After leaving the military in 2000 John taught English for 3 years in Korea, married in Thailand and backpacked the world with his spouse, then settled in Toronto in 2005. In recent years he has helped to establish various start-up businesses, then took on the role of full-time advocate/activist once he learned about the neglect in Veterans Affairs, the mefloquine controversy, and the unresolved impact of the unethical Somalia drug trials on former members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, including Kyle Brown.

Despite mefloquine being a known neurotoxicant, John believes that the role mefloquine played in the Somalia Affair and the disbandment of his former regiment are yet to take the proper place in the historical record. The injustice of this, the scapegoating of his former brothers in arms, and the continued use of mefloquine in the Canadian Forces to this day, have prompted him to become actively involved in advocacy for Canada’s mefloquine veterans. He was also instrumental in the recent establishment of the International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance. Read more of John’s story here or contact him here.

British Flag Mrs Bea Coldwell

Bea Coldwell

Bea Coldwell

In August 2007 Bea Coldwell and her daughters, then 15 and 13, farewelled her husband “M”, a British Army Lieutenant Colonel, for his year-long posting to IMATT in Sierra Leone. A gentle, home-loving man, M was told by the doctor who prescribed his Lariam, “it might make you go mad.” When the drug did exactly that to him, at least she knew where to start looking. The man they put onto a plane in August was not the cold, distant, restless, aggressive one they received back for R&R in December, nor the one who cut short his leave and returned to Sierra Leone three days early, texting en route to demand a divorce.

Bea’s immediate reaction was to contact her husband’s commander, who had been a friend for several years, in confidence. This confidence was broken: “there are no secrets between boys”, he said, and Bea’s concerns about M’s bizarre behaviour and Lariam were dismissed with derision. It turns out that there were secrets between boys: eight months later it became apparent that within weeks of his arrival at IMATT, M had begun an affair with an African “nightclub worker” and that this affair had been conducted under the noses of not only his commander but also the military doctor with whom he was sharing a house.

M was medically evacuated to a military hospital in the UK in November 2008 for reasons which have never been made clear. On contacting the consultant neurologist in charge of his care, Bea was surprised to hear that the medical team had not been informed of the affair, nor that M had been taking Lariam, both of which were vital to his diagnosis and treatment. The consultant seemed a little surprised that this information had been withheld, and described Lariam as “a terrible drug.” Incidentally, the doctor who prescribed Lariam to M is the same doctor to whom Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Marriott had reported his side-effects two years previously.

Eight difficult years and a painful divorce later, there are still times when Bea and her daughters huddle together in bewilderment at what happened to their beloved father and husband, and at the complete lack of compassion and care offered by those whose job it should have been to help. This includes a dozen or more former friends whose rank gave – and continues to give – them influence but who chose to look the other way.
There is not a chance that M, who was very late to promote to Lieutenant Colonel and whose first posting this was in that rank, would have risked his health, his career and his family in this way, had he been in his right mind. Bea has vowed to continue to fight the Ministry of Defence until they have stopped poisoning troops with a drug which has been proven to be neurotoxic. Read more of Bea’s story here or contact her here.

British Flag Mrs Ellen Le Brun

Ellen Le Brun

Ellen Le Brun

Under construction.