(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.
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:
relief to veterans involved in Project SHAD and other instances of chemical
or biological testing.
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
the Department of Veterans Affairs to notify veterans of their involvement
and to identify any linkages between the agents used and possible health
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.
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.