Apr 14 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a bipartisan bill to fix a federal oversight that’s prevented thousands of American veterans—who, about 40 years ago, cleaned up nuclear testing sites in the Marshall Islands while often working without protective gear—from getting access to the care they need.

Many of these veterans suffer from cancer, respiratory diseases, and heart problems. But right now, they are not adequately compensated for their medical costs. The Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act would tackle this issue by extending key Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare benefits to servicemembers who helped clean up the Marshall Islands between 1977-1980, an area subjected to more than 40 nuclear tests that remains partly uninhabitable due to high levels of radiation.

“This bipartisan bill addresses an injustice by recognizing the courageous soldiers who were tasked with cleaning the fallout and debris from nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands during the 1970s,” said Senator Tillis. “Our legislation ensures that thousands of veterans would be able to receive access to the medical treatment for which their service should have entitled them to long ago.”

“Around 40 years ago, thousands of members of the U.S. Armed Forces participated in the cleanup of nuclear testing sites in the Marshall Islands,” said Senator Franken. “Often clad in t-shirts, shorts, and boots, these servicemembers were exposed to radioactive waste, and many are now facing serious health problems. But despite being put in harm’s way, these veterans are not being adequately compensated. This is outrageous, and it’s an oversight that needs to be fixed immediately. Our bipartisan bill will bring these veterans access to the care they need and deserve.”

You can read a copy of the bill by clicking here.