October 18, 2003

Janet Tosto knows what illness killed her soldier son, but not why he had it.

Those who want to take on the mantle of the anti-Bush
must not allow their campaigns to be run as
traditional campaigns. Forget the red, white and blue
bunting, forget the confetti, forget the
Newspeak...Take up the problems of people like Janet
Tosto, the 9/11 widows, the Enron victims, etc...Tell
their stories. Demand answers for them. Remember
Reagan's syrupy homages to "American heroes" from
ordinary life up in the balcony during his SOTUs?
Well, that was a feel good move that was very
effective in the manipulation of emotions. Cark, Dean,
Kerry should be pointing to these people in the
audiences of their speechs and instead of doing
rah-rah aren't we great stuff with it, they should be
using it to stir up outrage and demand answers AND a
regime change in D.C....

http://www.news-leader.com/today/1017-Motherwant-194565.html

Published October 17, 2003

Mother wants answers in son's death
Janet Tosto knows what illness killed her soldier son, but not why he had it.

By Eric Eckert
News-Leader Staff

Family members of U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Tosto have
written letters to President George W. Bush, Vice
President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld. Each letter asks the same question: How did
Michael die? So far, the family has received no
response from the country's higher-ups.

The family has learned through various accounts that
Michael, 24, was one of two soldiers who died from a
severe case of pneumonia. Tosto and Missouri National
Guard Spc. Joshua Neusche, 20, of Montreal, died
within a week and a half of contracting the illness.

After a months-long public inquiry, Neusche's parents
accepted the Army's conclusion that Josh died from
adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) coupled
with the pneumonia.

Michael's mother, Janet Tosto, of Atlantic, N.C., said
she can accept that diagnosis, but there's one
problem:

"Something had to cause it (ARDS)," the nurse of 28
years said. "And I want to know what that is."

While the Neusches have talked at length with the U.S.
Army Surgeon General's Office the agency
investigating the two deaths and 17 other cases of
severe pneumonia Janet Tosto says she and her son's
wife, Stephanie, have been told very little.

"I think they're just avoiding the issue," she said of
military investigators. "I don't think they're lying.
I just don't think they're talking."

The Army Surgeon General's Office confirmed Thursday
that the investigative teams have returned from the
Middle East and Germany, where they examined the 19
cases of severe pneumonia.

The teams "are still working on analysis and
conclusions," said agency spokeswoman Lyn Kukral. "The
process could take weeks, even months. When the teams
complete their work, information about the
epidemiological study will be released."

All of the sickened soldiers were placed on
ventilators. Aside from the two deaths, the remaining
17 soldiers 16 men and one woman are either on
convalescent leave or have gone back to work.

Since the medical teams returned, the Army has
released some of their findings. Preliminary
statistics show 10 soldiers were diagnosed with acute
eosinophilic pneumonia, an illness without an
identifiable infectious cause that is characterized by
rapid respiratory failure.

Nine of those soldiers had started smoking cigarettes
after their deployment to the Central Command area of
responsibility. Janet Tosto said her son took up the
habit when he arrived in the Middle East. Neusche's
parents said their son never smoked.

Responding to Janet Tosto's concerns about ARDS, Dr.
Donald Wantuck a pulmonologist for 31 years and
chief of staff at St. John's Regional Health Center
said the condition can be a direct result of
pneumonia.

"A trauma can cause it," Wantuck explained. "But any
advanced stage infection can do it too. ... We
occasionally have ARDS in our community and we can't
always find the cause. That's the same as they're
having over there."

Wantuck said ARDS can be deadly if doctors can't
narrow down the cause quickly.

"If you can detect the cause and treat it early,
there's a reasonable recovery rate," he said. "If you
can't detect the cause, the mortality rate is pretty
high."

The doctor, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said
investigators may be dealing with something new and
need the time to narrow their focus.

"I think the Army is as frustrated as they (the
families) are," Wantuck said.

So far, the investigative teams have ruled out severe
acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, environmental
toxins and exposure to chemical or biological weapons.

Janet Tosto said she believes the anthrax vaccinations
her son received before and during deployment may have
been a cause.

"If he got his shot, he may have developed an allergic
reaction. That's my theory."

Wantuck said an allergic reaction would have been
visible.

"The lung biopsies they've done would have showed
that."

Janet Tosto said she is not mad at the military; she's
just a concerned mother looking for answers.

"Michael believed in what he was doing, and we believe
in what the president is doing," she said. "My head
knows Michael's gone. My heart just hasn't realized it
yet."

Posted by richard at October 18, 2003 09:24 PM