Walk to Defeat ALS – Call For Support from Gulf War Veterans Community
Since the community of Gulf War Veterans were the ones that brought forward the issue of ALS in Gulf War Veterans that has since been expanded to an issue of veterans at large. We think it only appropriate to encourage support of the ALS association.
In the Memory of Major Michael Donnelly(USAF), "Falcon’s Cry"(his book that is a definite read written by Major Donnelly and his sister Denise and publicized by a Larry King Show interview), and his families efforts to lead the charge for Gulf War Veterans in the 1990’s who developed ALS we ask our readers and groups to consider support of their annual signature events. These Walks are taking place now and you can find locations of the Walks in each state on the ALS Association WEBSITE WWW.alsa.org
Welcome – The ALS Association The ALS Association encourages scientific research to find a cure for ALS, heightens awareness of the nature of the disease, stimulates volunteerism and activism, and increases …
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Walk to Defeat ALS™
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Falcon’s Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir: Michael Donnelly …
Michael Donnelly’s diary entries offer a matter-of-fact account of his 44 combat missions during the Gulf War, but his descriptions of dealing with doctors after coming home …
User rating: 5/5 · 11 reviews
Michael Donnelly’s diary entries offer a matter-of-fact account of his 44 combat missions during the Gulf War, but his descriptions of dealing with doctors after coming home are more frightening. Diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Donnelly is convinced what he has is "Gulf War syndrome"–brought on by exposure to low levels of nerve and poison gases during the war. "I don’t know what to believe, where to turn for help," he writes. "All the while my body continues to deteriorate, heedless of the possible causes of its slow degeneration." Although he had served in the military for 15 years, Donnelly had to hire a lawyer and appeal to the Air Force Medical Evaluation Board to force the air force to pay him full disability benefits. And though the government denied any responsibility for his illness, we learn that U.S. officials both in Washington and at the front were aware of Iraq’s chemical-weapons capability–and continued with their plans regardless: "Troops came upon camels lying dead and decaying in the desert … dogs and rodents and other small animals died, suddenly, inexplicably, shortly after those tens of thousands of ‘false’ chemical weapons alarms rang out. The alarms were so common, some commanders even ordered their troops to disable or disregard them." Falcon’s Cry is a story of courage and betrayal, a war story in which the casualty doesn’t occur until after the fighting stops. –Linda Killian
From Publishers Weekly
In 1996 Michael Donnelly, a highly decorated Air Force fighter pilot, consulted his flight surgeon about the extreme fatigue and erratic heart rhythms that he’d been noticing, and asked in passing if they might be connected to his service in the Gulf War. While the military doctor immediately dismissed Donnelly’s suggestion, saying "there is no conclusive evidence linking service in the Gulf to any illness," he ordered additional tests. Eventually, Donnelly was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a degenerative disorder that soon left him confined to a wheelchair and struggling to swallow. The hard-charging former fighter was outraged not only by his condition, but also by the military establishment’s steadfast denial of Gulf War syndrome, even when faced with the claims of 110,000 veterans who say that they became ill after serving in Desert Storm. Not one to take disability lightly, Donnelly set out to tackle both his disease and his intransigent government. There is no cure for ALS, but Donnelly has become a powerful spokesman for his fellow veterans and has helped persuade Washington lawmakers to look further into the illnesses that vets believe were caused by exposure to chemical weapons and Iraqi nerve agents. Told with the help of Donnelly’s sister, this gripping account could do much to unseat Pentagon assertions that "Gulf War Syndrome" is a myth constructed by stressed-out veterans.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A moving memoir of the authors experiences as an air force pilot throughout the 1980s and the Persian Gulf War, that also confronts his seeming postwar diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrigs disease) and his subsequent realization that he did not have ALS, but rather, “Gulf War syndrome. While lacking the polish of an experienced writer, Donnelly makes up for this with an impressive degree of candordiscussing his reluctance, for example, to see a doctor although he fears that his flying skills have been impairedand manages to convey his feelings of loyalty to the armed services, even in the wake of his discovery that those very same forces had experimented on him with medicines not yet approved by the FDA. The book begins with the disabled Donnellys current flyingin a video game, then turns back to his training and early military career. He ably conveys the rigor of air force flight school and assesses the difficulties of maintaining a family in the military. More interesting, though, is his take on the attitudes of front-line pilots at the tail end of the Cold War and his own feeling of a loss of mission as bases began closing down in Europe. But all of that alters, and Donnellys own sense of anticipation builds, as the situation escalates toward war in the Persian Gulf. The sections of Falcons Cry dealing with the war are dramatic and unlikely to disappoint anyone who watched the “CNN war” on a TV setalthough Donnelly admits that he cant fully divulge all that happened over Iraq and Kuwait. Donnellys tale of his personal sacrifices of health, mobility, and career quite naturally overshadow the victory in the Gulf. An honest, deeply felt look at the human cost of war. (photos, not seen) — Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
“[I]n this remarkable, gripping book, [Donnelly] has embarked on one last bombing run–a devastating attack against the Pentagon, Veterans Affairs Department, and other repositories of dangerous federal health policies….’Falcon’s Cry’ is also a heart-wrenching examination of what it’s like to have your body wither away while your mind remains lively and sharp…. The book is a frightening, inspiring tale of bravery and persistence.”–Gannett News Service
“Donnelly has become a powerful spokesman for his fellow veterans and has helped persuade Washington lawmakers to look further into the illnesses that vets believe were caused by exposure to chemical weapons and Iraqi nerve agents. Told with the help of Donnelly’s sister, this gripping account could do much to unseat Pentagon assertions that ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ is a myth constructed by stressed-out veterans.”–Publishers Weekly
“A moving memoir of the author’s experiences as an air force pilot throughout the 1980s and the Persian Gulf War, that also confronts his seeming postwar diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and his subsequent realization that he did not have ALS, but rather, ‘Gulf War Syndrome.’ While lacking the polish of an experienced writer, Donnelly makes up for this with an impressive degree of candor….The sections of Falcon’s Cry dealing with the war are dramatic and unlikely to disappoint anyone who watched the ‘CNN War’ on a TV set….Donnelly’s tale of his personal sacrifices of health, mobility, and career quite naturally overshadow the victory in the Gulf. An honest, deeply felt look at the human cost of war.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Donnelly…has done a remarkable job of documenting the onset and causes of his fatal disease, while telling about his life….But it is Donnelly’s description of exposure to dangerous chemicals that gives Falcon’s Cry its punch….with [this book] Donnelly has done his comrades and his country an invaluable service.”–Journal Inquirer
“This is a sad story. And a true one….In this limpid, often riveting memoir, Donnelly and his sister Denise chronicle his brilliant military career, his rapid demise, and, most of all, the heartbreaking indifference with which his and other Gulf War veterans’ suffering was met….While unnerving, the writing is always measured, rich with facts, and devoid of self-indulgence. Michael Donnelly is both an officer and a gentleman.”–Boston Magazine
“Collaborating with his sister, the team reports with clarity and passion on behalf of veterans who have insufficient medical or disability benefits.”–WE Magazine
“The Donnellys do a wonderful job with this book. Read the official memoirs and histories of the Gulf War, then read Falcon’s Cry, the real history of the Gulf War.”–Dead Trees Review
“Five stars (exceptional).”–Today’s Books
“A truly moving experience. Anyone who is considering making war, anyone who wants to prevent it, anyone who has gone to war or sent a father, husband, or child to war should read this book.”–Seymour Hersh Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Against All Enemies
“Reveling in the great victory for the U.S. in Desert Storm should not let us overlook the need to recognize the tremendous sacrifices made by those who lost their lives or who may have been physically harmed by exposure to hazards in that war. [This] book is a fascinating and tragic portrayal told with clarity and pathos of the situation in which one hero of Desert Storm finds himself today. It is an excellent read; reminding us of the heroic sacrifices that go with war.”–E. R. Zumwalt, Jr. Admiral, USN (Ret.)
“The Falcon’s Cry! Have you ever heard one? It’s a haunting sound that pierces your consciousness. This [book] does too because it is written emotionally and yet artfully by Michael and Denise Donnelly, brother and sister. It is one of thousands of dramas played out before, during and after the Persian Gulf War by soldiers…who lived through perhaps the dirtiest environmental battlefields ever….This tale, when you think long enough about it, will shock you.”–Thomas "Dennie" Williams The Hartford Courant
“Falcon’s Cry is [Donnelly’s] story, from his departure for the Mideast to his battle with ALS. It is riveting and heart rendering. This is the true story of Gulf War veterans. Everyone in the United States should read it.”–Bernard Sanders (I-VT) U.S. Representative
“Gulf War hero Major Michael Donnelly, USAF (Ret.), returned home with a deadly disease and to a nation indifferent to his illness. A courageous young American, his compelling story of government betrayal and denial, as told to Congress, is typical of over 100,000 Gulf War veterans who continue to suffer from a variety of unexplained illnesses. Major Donnelly and his fellow veterans are the delayed and forgotten casualties of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. They deserve more than the thanks of a grateful nation.”–Christopher Shays (R-CT) U.S. Representative and Chairman, Human Resources Subcommittee Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
"A truly moving experience. Anyone who is considering making war, anyone who wants to prevent it, anyone who has gone to war or sent a father, husband, or child to war should read this book." – Seymour Hersh Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Against All Enemies –This text refers to the Paperback edition.
In this remarkable, gripping book, [Donnelly] has embarked on one last bombing runâ€”a devastating attack against the Pentagon, Veterans Affairs Department, and other repositories of dangerous federal health policies…. Falcon’s Cry is also a heart-wrenching examination of what it’s like to have your body wither away while your mind remains lively and sharp…. The book is a frightening, inspiring tale of bravery and persistence. Gannett News Service.
When Major Michael Donnelly was instructing his U.S. Air Force student pilots, he used to tell them three things: "Timing is everything; it’s nice to be lucky; and there is no justice." Highly decorated fighter pilot, proud young patriot, loyal friend with a mischievous sense of humor, loving husband and father of two, he could not have imagined the tragic meaning those words would assume just a few years after his tour of duty in Desert Storm. In 1996 Major Donnelly was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at the unusually young age of 35; the onset of this illness marked the beginning of a kind of torture beyond the scope of even the most rigorous military survival training. Betrayed by his body, eventually paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, he experienced another betrayal perhaps even more difficult to comprehend–betrayal by his country. For despite the fact that over 110,000 Desert Storm veterans are sick, many dying of mysterious cancers and neurological diseases, including more than ten times the normal incidence of ALS–and despite all evidence pointing to U.S. troops having been dosed by low levels of Iraqi nerve agents and exposed to chemical weapons’ fallout–the Pentagon adamantly denies any connection between their illnesses and their service in the Gulf War. Falcon’s Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir, Michael Donnelly’s unforgettable story, is his courageous attempt to unearth the truth and force an acknowledgment of that truth by the government he and his fellow veterans defended with their lives.
About the Author
MAJOR MICHAEL DONNELLY retired from the U.S. Air Force in October 1996 after 15 years of active duty.
DENISE DONNELLY, a professional writer and the sister of Major Donnelly, has been a fiction editor at the Missouri Review and has taught English and creative writing at Tufts University and the University of Missouri.
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Praeger (August 30, 1998)
Michael Donnelly (1959–June 30, 2005) was a United States Air Force major and veteran of the first Gulf War. Medically retired in 1996 following a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, he became a leading activist for sufferers of Gulf War Syndrome
Donnelly quickly gained national recognition as a veteran’s advocate, including appearing in a feature article in People Magazine. He led a six year campaign to convince the federal government of the connection between Lou Gehrig’s Disease and active service in the Gulf, and provided testimony to the United States Congress regarding this issue.
Donnelly died of his disease in 2005. The Major Michael Donnelly Land Preserve, in his hometown of South Windsor, Connecticut, is named for him. His funeral was attended by H. Ross Perot, whom Donnelly met while advocating for Gulf War veterans. Donnelly also wrote the book Falcon’s Cry.
Donnelly graduated from Fairfield University in 1981.
Maj. Michael Donnelly Land Preserve Information
Donnelly’s Statement to Congress
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Donnelly_(veteran)"