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Tonko Reintroduces Bill to Track Toxic Exposure of Fort McClellan Veterans

Legislation examines link between service-connected exposures & development of severe chronic health problems

  • veteran photo

WASHINGTON—Congressman Paul D. Tonko reintroduced his Fort McClellan Health Registry Act today, legislation that establishes a health registry tracking links between service at Fort McClellan and the severe life-long health problems plaguing many of the veterans who served there. In the past, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has not accepted any link between adverse health effects and service at Fort McClellan despite acknowledging that toxic substances were present at the base, including:

  • Radioactive compounds (cesium-137 and cobalt-60) used in decontamination training
  • Chemical warfare agents (mustard gas and nerve agents) used in decontamination testing
  • Airborne polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a nearby Monsanto plant

“The stories I have heard from our veterans who served at Fort McClellan are heartbreakingly painful,” Congressman Tonko said. “These selfless patriots put their lives on the line to protect us, our families and our nation. We should never have turned a blind eye to the devastating price they are paying for that service. The fact that they are still being denied VA care for these conditions is a travesty and a betrayal of their loyalty and sacrifice. My Fort McClellan Health Registry Act would be a breakthrough for them, taking that vital first step of establishing clear links between toxic exposure during their service there and the health issues that have plagued them ever since. It’s long past time that we deliver on the promises we made for their service, and let these heroes know they are not, and will not be, forgotten.”

As reported by numerous news outlets including CNNFox News HealthWashington Times and others, many U.S. veterans who served at Fort McClellan face dangerous and even deadly health complications, often with little or no alternate explanation.

Despite Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledgement that veterans stationed at Fort McClellan may have been exposed to radioactive compounds, chemical warfare agents and airborne PCBs, the VA has declined to grant a presumption of service-connected disability based on that service for long-term severe health complications later in life. As a result, these veterans are often limited in the service-connected care they can receive.


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