December 11, 2008

David Kirby on Autism and the Military: One Very Brave Captain

Purple_heart By David Kirby
I often receive letters from parents of children with autism, from all over the world. They are moving, gratifying, and powerful. They keep me going.

Yesterday, I received a letter that I will never forget. It was from a Captain in the U.S. Army, who has risked his life in the name of his country. He also has three sons on the autism spectrum, and he blames vaccines.

"To be honest, the vast majority of military families dealing with autism that I know, think that vaccines are the cause," Capt. Joe Mickley told me in a phone interview. "And those include some people of very high rank in the military."
One colleague had a son born in the same military hospital, at the same time, as his own, youngest son the most severely affected of his three children. The two boys both developed normally together, and then began to regress at roughly the same time, Capt. Mickley said, eventually developing the same symptoms and signs of autism.

He told me that the parents of that child recently bought Jenny McCarthy's book, "Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism," and, within a week and a half of starting chelation therapy and other biomedical treatments, "that child started recovering. He started speaking again."

This is not the last that we will be hearing from Captain Mickley. He and many other military families are getting ready to come forward and tell their stories en-masse.

It's easy to dismiss and ridicule me (and it is part of my job description, so I don't really care). It's more difficult to do so to a battle hardened Army Captain. Yes, people will try. But I don't envy them.

Here then, is Captain Mickley's letter to me. Anyone wishing to contact him should email Angela Warner HERE. Please include CAPTAIN MICKLEY in the subject line. Angela runs the blog Autism Salutes, she will forward the letters to him.


Mr. Kirby

I just wanted to write you a quick note to thank you for the work that you are doing toward uncovering what is happening to our children, more specifically the work that you have done for military families. I am a Captain in the United States Army, with 11 years of dedicated service to the nation. 

I have recently become disheartened with how autism is being dealt with in the military. I am the proud father of three young boys whom all enjoy a spot on the spectrum.  I read on your site and others that the military has a very high rate of dependents on the spectrum, although I would swear to you that six months ago, when autism first exposed itself in my family, my wife and I felt like we were the first family to go through this, and over the recent months I have met others whose stories are almost identical to ours.  You have helped me realize that we are not alone and that something is going on to trigger what equates to be brain damage, instead of what I thought was autism.

Sir, as I follow your words it inspires me to gather together the members of the families who have gone through the same hell as mine.  To let our voice be heard so that action has to be taken.  I and others like me would like accountability why we lost our children. I have video of my son months prior to the vaccines that I believe triggered his withdrawal. He is engaged, alert, talkative and happy. 

Following the shots, he began a steady withdrawal and decline. The most painful part was that we watched him slip away, and before I knew it, he was not the same.  We also have doctors' records documenting our concerns as well as a military doctor's summary stating that our concerns were more than likely unfounded. 

After visiting that doctor, we fought for more than seven months through more red tape than anything I had experienced in ten years of service to obtain a diagnosis. Little did I know that this would just be the beginning of our battle to save our boys.

As a Soldier and combat veteran of multiple tours I have fought against our nation's enemies. I have seen the dark side of humanity and survived it. That experience pales in comparison to the horror of watching your child suffer a regression.   

Again sir, I thank you and hope that you may never grow tired in your efforts, because my family and many others count on you.

Captain Joe Mickley
United States Army

David Kirby is author of Evidence of Harm, a contributor to Age of Autism and a founding contributor to Huffington Post.


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Dear Captain Mickley,

First of all, thank you for your service to our country. Secondly, thank you for speaking out about your children's autism.

My husband is a disabled vet, and we have five children with autism. We should have known that the US gov't would treat their culpability in the autism epidemic the same way they have treated injured soldiers. Remember Gulf War Syndrome wasn't real? And here, all vets with PTSD are not diagnosed with PTSD but with bipolar disorder. Funny how all the vets in AZ are supposedly manic-depressive, and therefore not eligible for service-related benefits...

I am sorry you have had to join the ranks in the army fighting autism, but I am glad you have joined in our battle!


Denise Derusha

Capt. Mickley You deserve the medal of Honor for Bravery!

There are so many military families who know their children were injured by vaccines and regressed into autism. You have provided them a voice and an opportunity to speak up. Thank you.

For those of you who question why this is so hard... I will speak out as it has happened in our own family. Our members and spouses are fearful of retribution from military leadership. Period. As a spouse, i had to over come my own initial intimidation of stripes and ribbons. When my family was intimidated and implied threats were made, that is when I said enough is enough! I am a person and I wake up with bed head (although I was thinking something else...) just like they do. I have the right to make our families truth and my children's truth heard, I don't care how many stripes you have on your uniform.

On the flip side, many remain fearful, and they should NOT be faulted for this. Many are in positions where they simply can not speak up or they will lose their career and thus the ability to provide for their child(ren).

Maureen - you are right... this mantra is old. I'm sick of hearing it too. This is 2008, not 1950. Get with the times. Our members have families and chidren!

And David... our military families are so grateful to you and Age of Autism for opening the door for our community to be heard and unify. You all will NEVER know how grateful I personally am to you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


I am moved beyond words. Thank you David and thank you Captain Mickley.
I was very moved by Capt. Mickley's remarks that seeing his children regress was worse than combat. It's something that civilians who go through this loss suspect, though we're by no means entitled to make that kind of direct equivocation. It takes this kind of testimony to give the rest of us something by which to really measure the horror.

What does it say about our current society that the groups of people who are supposed to be deemed the most sacred and due the most consideration and respect-- infants, children, our elders, those who are fighting or have fought our wars-- are now the first to be picked off for profits, often used as guinea pigs, silenced and left to rot?

What happened to Captain Mickley's family and the families of other service members are all compounded tragedies. First, this represents multiple offenses-- the injuries and the the cover-up and neglect of the injuries of the children of service members. Secondly, there's the issue of how these service members themselves were subjected to multiple forced vaccinations, which could have reprecussions for their health down the line.

When reading the coverage of the military vaccine website's inclusion of "autism" as a risk of DTAP, many of us were probably wondering if there was an alternate reality in the military where vaccine injuries were being acknowledged, treated and compensated. Maybe even prevented. No one would have begrudged it and I think we all would have had hopes that this model would eventually be extended to civilians-- that it could have been a wonderful sign that the CDC's reign of damage, denial and silence was crumbling. From what Capt. Mickley writes, this is far from the truth.

It used to be the tradition for many children of career veterans to volunteer for military training and enlist. I wonder if that tradition will survive under the present circumstances. The remaining military kids (or any kids, for that matter) who are even fit to serve or command may not wish to see their own future children maimed and neglected in thanks. It's not the kind of thing that recruitment centers advertise on their promotional material.

It's incredibly brave of these families to follow the "call to duty" again for all our sakes. Of course it's horribly ironic that, this time, they're having to go up against the government they served.

There is a saying I have heard very often as the wife of a Marine, "if the military wanted you to have a family they would have issued you one". That may have applied to our troop in years past but that was before it was an all volunteer force. If the military doesn't start give us answers to why the rates are higher, the same wives and husbands that take care of the home front will choose to take our kids out of the line of fire.

Also, military children bare the bearden of a nation. The are the ones that are asked to scarifies the most. They deserve better care then this.


Proud wife of a Marine

Proud wife of a child with ASD on the road to recovery

Captain Mickley - I'm so sorry that this has happened to your family. Thank you for having the courage to speak up. My heart breaks for every child with autism or in reality (brain damage) because this insanity should have stopped after the Simpsonwood Meeting in 1999. I was speaking with a young military mom just yesterday and I asked her what she thought caused her son's autism. She got very nervous and was almost afraid to answer me so I answered for her and I said "it's the vaccines." She had a look of relief and went into detail about her son's seizure right after his vaccines and regression into autism. I'm not military so I don't understand what she was afraid of but my point is that being in the military it takes EXTRA courage to speak up - thank you.
"I have seen the dark side of humanity and survived it. That experience pales in comparison to the horror of watching your child suffer a regression."

This is a powerful and haunting statement that has left me in tears. Captain Mickley, thank you for your service to our country and now to our children. I pray that your children's health will be restored.

Capt. Mickley: Thank you for serving our country and now fighting for all families worldwide. You are truly a hero.

And David, thank you for all of your work on our behalf. I don't know why you continue to subject yourself to ridicule and criticism but I am so grateful that you do.

Captain Mickley, it is by reading letters like yours that I can believe that maybe the truth will finally be believed (since I think that the truth has already "come out"), and that there is hope. Something hard to come by in this battle.
I pray for the welfare of all solders on the field and our little soldiers in a battle in their minds.
Thank you David for continuing support, knowing that there is nothing easy about standing with the vaccine-injured...ever....

And same question here, Keith, how will Offitt spin this?

Thank you, David, and thank you, Captain Mickley. It's so tragic that the people who administer the agents of harm are the same people expected to help and heal our children. These pursuits should not be mutually exclusive....

In 1950 a postwar book was published called "German Faces," by Ann Stringer and Henry Ries. It featured profiles of people who'd supported the Third Reich -- not just military officers, but average citizens.

Obviously communications technology then was limited, but still these people had to have read or heard about prison camp atrocities. I was struck by a singular thread running through the narrative -- regret, but the wrong kind. One young man who'd been in the Hitler Youth spoke nostalgically about missing the rallies and the perks, the sense of mission and belonging.

I see a similar unhealthy ideological framework in the network of coalitions built by public health administrators. Chains of one-sided information with no place for consumer input. Consumers who question their handling of vaccine safety are treated like an affliction.


"As a Soldier and combat veteran of multiple tours I have fought against our nation's enemies. I have seen the dark side of humanity and survived it. That experience pales in comparison to the horror of watching your child suffer a regression."

I understand exactly how Capt. Mickley feels. I now see the dark side of humanity in the likes of Offit, Gerberding, Fombonne, Allen, and the rest of the vaccine zealots. Their fanatic belief in vaccines as the saviour of mankind is terrorism.

Wonder how Offitt will spin this?