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Tonko Reintroduces Legislation to Help Fort McClellan Veterans

Bill would examine link between service-connected toxic exposure and development of severe chronic health problems

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Washington, August 28, 2017 | comments
“If you take the time to listen to the stories of sick veterans who served at Fort McClellan, they will break your heart. These folks are patriots who signed up knowing their military service would come with very real risks, even beyond the battlefield, but that is no excuse for America to abandon them in their time of need. For too long, these veterans have been left, alone and forgotten by the nation they served, to suffer painful illness and indignity. It is long past time for these selfless warriors to get the answers they deserve.” - Rep. Paul Tonko
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WASHINGTON – Capital Region Congressman Paul Tonko announced today that he has officially reintroduced the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act, H.R. 3666, a first step in proving a clear link between service at Fort McClellan and the severe health problems faced by many of the veterans who served there.

Rep. Paul Tonko: “If you take the time to listen to the stories of sick veterans who served at Fort McClellan, they will break your heart. These folks are patriots who signed up knowing their military service would come with very real risks, even beyond the battlefield, but that is no excuse for America to abandon them in their time of need. For too long, these veterans have been left, alone and forgotten by the nation they served, to suffer painful illness and indignity. It is long past time for these selfless warriors to get the answers they deserve.”

As reported by CNN, Fox News Health, Washington Times and others, many 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 may have been exposed to radioactive compounds, chemical warfare agents and airborne PCBs while stationed at Fort McClellan, 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.

Rep. Tonko’s legislation takes a first step by establishing a health registry that would provide the data necessary to link service at Fort McClellan with serious adverse illness and deteriorating health. If the bill is eventually adopted, the registry created, and the causal link supported by the evidence gathered through the registry and affiliated study, could be used to establish a presumption of exposure that could help a lot of veterans who are suffering get access to needed care and treatment.

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