Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fort McClellan Health Registry Act (H.R. 2052) Tonko's Statement

                    ***Please read note at end of text of Tonko's Bill!***


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Paul Tonko has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that will help track the health problems of thousands of veterans who were stationed at Ft. McClellan in Alabama, and who were exposed to dangerous levels of PCBs and other toxins. The Fort McClellan Health Registry Act (H.R. 2052) requires the Veterans Administration to set up a health registry for vets who served at Fort McClellan between 1935 and 1999, in order to track their medical history to establish a firm connection between their service at the base and medical conditions related toexposure to toxic substances. Congressman Tonko first authored the bill in the last session of Congress, following meetings with local veterans who were stationed at Fort McClellan and are suffering with numerous health problems.
“The veterans who served at Fort McClellan deserve answers – we must investigate the link between the toxic exposure at the base and significant health problems those veterans are experiencing,” said Congressman Tonko. “My bill will start the process of tracking health issues with those veterans so we can finally establish a link and get our veterans the care they deserve.”
Fort McClellan is located in Anniston, Alabama, and served thousands of Army Veterans during the Vietnam era up until its closure in 1999. Many of those veterans were unaware that the base and the surrounding town were contaminated with PCBs, cyanide, nerve gas, lead, pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Fort McClellan was home to the Army’s Chemical Corps and ran experiments on chemicals such as Agent Orange. The town of Anniston was home to a large factory owned by Monsanto that manufactured PCBs. Anniston is widely regarded by scientists as the most polluted area in the nation.
Many veterans who spent time at the base have experienced a number of significant health problems – such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart disease, and issues affecting the reproductive, autoimmune and neurological systems. Many Fort McClellan veterans are women, because the Women’s Army Corps was headquartered at the base. While there have been many efforts to better document and understand cases of toxic exposure impacting primarily male service members, Fort McClellan, with its unusually large population of female soldiers, has been overlooked for too long.
In addition to creating the registry, the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act also requires the VA to notify the veterans listed on the registry about the consequences of toxic exposure at the base and let them know about their options.
“We can no longer ignore the veterans who became sick as after serving at Fort McClellan,” added Congressman Tonko. “We must take action – they deserve better.”
The bill has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Okay kids, this is where we stand so far...

I called my congressman's office and the nice lady Kerry (who may or may not have read some not so nice letters to her employer mysteriously posted from MY email somehow, ?grudgingly? gave me some good advice anyway) so here goes. As you read above, this is in its infancy and could drag on for years. This is good news and bad news. Good if we survive, bad if we don't...unless we are married in which case it it still good for our spouses, BECAUSE our compensation from VA, regardless of whether or not we are receiving Social Security and Medicare and/or Pension benefits already, accrues from the DATE WE FIRST APPLY if we reach that golden promised land of VA proof and approval of our illnesses and passes to our spouses if we don't...make it. 

So my advice to you is MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENTS NOW! Even if you don't have all your ducks in a row, they have the burden of requesting the medical proofs from your various doctors and specialists! That is the straight poop from the VA this AM. So get in there and get your claim made and worry about proving your case as things develop, and claim as many of the mentioned disorders as you legitimately can. Cover every possible one that you can realistically link to your chemical exposure. I'm also thinking, as plan B, if VA won't give over, we could maybe go class action against Monsanto unless they've already got some sweetheart immunity deal, which also wouldn't surprise me. NOTHING about the military and human experimentation will EVER surprise me again. And to think, a few short years...well okay a decade and a half ago, I was in a TIZZY because someone I "think" was a Marine (an online person, what can I say?) Jet Jock was having unpleasant side effects from his immunizations. Poor effing baby. I'm sure the officers got the pure stuff, it's the people who work for a living who get to eat pesticides and neurotoxins.

Good luck, all. Until further notice, CE, OUT.

PS to Fun and Games at Fort MacToxic

Incase you missed the comment to the previous post, I have been told the bill is H.R. #2052. All bills must be brought forward by the House first so work on your CONGRESS PERSON first...then IF it is brought forward by them, start hitting up your SENATOR. Meanwhile hit OBAMA HARD! ...and as I said, repeat, repeat, repeat. Full auto, boys and girls! 

Fun and Games at Fort MacToxic!

I was at Fort McClellan for Army basic training (and bonus toxic exposure). I was face down in foul smelling stuff on the firing range. They sprayed it "to keep the dust down" everywhere, on a daily basis, except when it rained. They sprayed other stuff "to keep the bugs away." There wasn't a weed ANYWHERE, but there were plenty of tanks and sprayers. 

They sprayed HELLISH stuff ON US as we recited the alphabet, then said and spelled our names and shouted our service numbers through the tears and mucous pouring from our noses and mouths in the "gas chamber." They later told me I had "sensitive skin" when I broke out in weeping blisters and started having dizzy spells and headaches, even though I did as I was told and didn't rinse off afterward, and those symptoms lasted throughout and long after my time in service. I am talking floor-tilting-sideways-dizzy, not just a passing episode of vertigo here. I am now, decades later, finally diagnosed with MS, CFIDS,  PTSD (not related to the toxins), and Degenerative Disk Disease, requiring frequent shots into my spine because my body can't tolerate the level of pain medication needed to try to cover up the pain. I have had 2 separate skin cancers removed--before age 40. That is NOT normal, and I've had several several other precancerous lesions removed prophylactically, and I have Barrett's Esophagitis and polycystic breasts. How long until that turns to cancer, I don't know. I feel like a ticking time bomb now that I know the truth! I also sound like a drama-queen, but I'm actually fairly low-key in person. I just get animated when it comes to things like justice and fairness and people being treated unequally due to gender, etc....

One of my sons has spina-bifida occulta, which is a deformity of the spine which ranges from disabling to barely noticable. He's in some pain but is able to work and even play football. My other son got Shingles...SHINGLES...something 88 year olds 15 years old! So apparently I have passed this "gift" from Monsanto et al on to my children, as so many other Agent Orange and other toxin vets have...only as the female parent, obviously since I was also the "biological incubator" ie: the one with the uterus and thereby provided the toxin-spiked blood supply during their development, it's even worse than if I were only supplying genetic material. So, while female vets exposed to this stuff suffer just as much and are more likely to pass MORE damage on to their offspring, the VA refuses to even acknowledge we exist! That is just SO EFFING WRONG!

I visited a site on Blogger where someone said the VA was treating anyone who had served at Fort McClellan as a "presumptive case" of Stateside Agent Orange Exposure, which IS a real thing...for men. NO SUCH LUCK FOR WOMEN. That blogger was either woefully misled, hopelessly optimistic, or a very gifted psychic, because it hasn't happened yet. I choose not to think she was just plain CRUEL. 

To back-track just a bit,  McClellan was the WAC basic training facility and MP school as well as the Chemical Warfare Headquarters most of its existence (and "shhhhhh" leaky depository of said chemicals while I was there and until it was closed in 1999 due to all the toxins found in the water, air and on land. This was a BIG concern to the civilian population of a town SEVERAL MILES AWAY whose population did NOT have their collective heads in said toxic waste for WEEKS at a time or have it sprayed into their eyes, noses, mouths and skin while singing the Star freaking Spangled Banner!)  

God, where is Tom Daschle when you need him? He's the one who fought for SO LONG to get the Vietnam vets compensated. How ironic that I took care of some of those guys and didn't know I had trained in a literal swamp of the stuff? I remember cleaning M-60's (my "reward" for scoring "Expert" on the rifle range and getting to fire one) and hearing the guys talk about how they kept leaking BARRELS of the stuff nearby and the barrels were deteriorating and leaking right out onto the ground...and no one was doing anything about it. At the time it was just another "stupid Army" thing. We had no idea it was going to kill us someday. I was going to say we did everything but bathe in it, but we DID bathe in it because it leaked right into the water system. Waste not, want not, right? ...but no great loss because the vast majority of us there were "just women." We all know how the good ol' boys network works...ohhh yes...but that's a whole different story....the PTSD one, which I may or may not tell another day.

Ugh...the way I see it I'm screwed seven ways to Sunday no matter how you look at it, but it would have been nice to leave some hope for my children. I'm just as sick as the men exposed to that crap, and though I did my bleeding, sweating and crying in an all together different way, I DID do it.  The bastards who caused it were "friendly" (ha...odd term, that) but I digress...

Tell ya what though. If you share a similar experience, get in touch...preferably with your congressional representative or with Paul Tonko, the sponsor of HR 2052. Feel free to get in touch with me too, but they can do more for you!

 H.R.2052 : Fort McClellan Health Registry Act
Sponsor: Rep Tonko, Paul [NY-21] (introduced 5/26/2011)      Cosponsors (11) 
Committees: House Veterans' Affairs; House Armed Services 
Latest Major Action: 6/24/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

I am working with my congressman on some issues related to my disability, and I HOPE he may help me look into this too, though I have my doubts as he's one of the Teavangelicals owned by the Koch brothers. In the meantime, CALL YOURS! Every single incumbent, be they democrat or republican is sweating bullets right now, so PRESSURE THEM TO PASS THIS LEGISLATION. It's in committee and just needs to be brought to the floor and voted upon. They are wanting to look good...especially these republicans who have done nothing but OBSTRUCT, OBSTRUCT, OBSTRUCT. If they do something like this even *I* may vote get busy. Write, call, email...and repeat. GO!