IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

June 27, 2002

No. 02-07

(301) 585-4000
Contact:
Mokie Porter

 

VVA HAILS “VETERANS RIGHT TO KNOW ACT OF 2002”

Bills Would Force Declassification of Records on Chemical/Biological Testing on Veterans


(Washington, D.C.) – Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) today hailed the introduction of the “Veterans Right to Know Act of 2002,” which would mandate the declassification of Pentagon records detailing chemical and biological weapons testing on American veterans in the 1960's.  

"This is landmark legislation for veterans," said Thomas H. Corey, VVA's national president. "For the first time ever, Congress is establishing a mechanism to investigate all chemical and biological testing activities conducted by the Pentagon that may have harmed the health of veterans. We look forward to the speedy passage of these bills by both chambers." 

Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) have teamed up to produce a bill that would: 

--bring relief to veterans involved in Project SHAD and other instances of chemical or biological testing. 

--establish an independent General Accounting Office (GAO) commission to act as an oversight body and to work with DoD to release information on chemical and biological tests conducted without the knowledge or consent of servicemembers. 

--require the Department of Veterans Affairs to notify veterans of their involvement and to identify any linkages between the agents used and possible health effects. 

The impetus for the bill came from a determined lobbying effort by VVA and a group of veterans from what has become known as Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), a 1960's era chemical and biological warfare agent testing program on Navy ships and personnel. Some of the most lethal chemical agents--sarin and VX--along with highly carcinogenic decontamination solutions were used in SHAD, which may have involved as many as 113 separate test operations.  

The bills would force the Pentagon to declassify not only all Project SHAD data, but the umbrella program for SHAD, Project 112, which involved chemical and biological warfare testing off the U.S. coasts, in Alaska, Panama, and other unidentified locations. VVA estimates the total number of affected veterans to be in the tens of thousands. 

Corey further stated, “VVA’s position is to seek the truth about these testings and allow the veterans who were exposed to be notified and provided with appropriate treatment and care.” 

VVA would also like to thank Congressman Jerry Moran (R-KS), chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee and Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee for agreeing to hold congressional hearings on SHAD.

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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