(Washington, DC)– “We applaud Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for joining forces to introduce The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2014, said VVA National President John Rowan. “Among the so-called invisible wounds of war are those brought home by troops that may not manifest for decades. And most tragically, the damage done by the toxins may pass on genetically to the children and grandchildren of our nation’s warriors. Our children are the innocent victims of our military service.”
This bill, (S.2738), instructs the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxins during service in the Armed Forces. Further, S.2738 calls for the establishment of an advisory board to oversee and assess the work of the center; to determine health conditions that result from toxic exposure; and to study and evaluate cases of exposure. The advisory board will advise the Secretary of VA on issues related to research conducted at the National Center and the particular benefits and services required by the descendants of individuals exposed while serving as members of the Armed Forces.
Toxins, such as Agent Orange, have been shown to cause birth defects in the children of military personnel who came into contact with them, either during the Vietnam War, in the storage and transportation of those toxins, or by riding in aircraft that had been previously used to transport the toxins. For Gulf War veterans, the exposure was to chemical weapons that were in an Iraqi ammo dump that was blown up by U.S. Forces at the end of the Gulf War, to oil fires, and possibly to tainted vaccines. This is comprehensive legislation that will construct a common mechanism and procedures that will encompass all past and future toxic wounds, as needed.
We thank Senator Blumenthal and Senator Moran for constructing this bi-partisan bill, and we thank Senator Begich for being an original co-sponsor. We look forward to many additional co-sponsors, and to the support of many of our colleagues in other veterans organizations. We also look forward to quick action by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs when Congress returns in September.