Washington, D.C.--Representatives Dan Benishek (R-MI) and Mike Honda (D-CA) have introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act (H.R. 5484) that will, when enacted into law, establish a national center at a VA medical facility for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
On November 19, at 2:00 p.m., in testimony before the Subcommittee on Health of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, VVA National President John Rowan expressed VVA’s strong support for this legislation. “This bipartisan legislation is multigenerational in scope and will provide a process for evaluating exposures that may result in toxic wounds to veterans and their offspring,” said Rowan. “The invisible wounds of war may not manifest for decades. Most tragically, these wounds may be passed on to subsequent generations, and our children and grandchildren should not have such burdens visited upon them.”
Toxins, such as Agent Orange, are suspected of being responsible for birth defects, cancers, developmental disabilities, and other adverse health conditions in the children and grandchildren of veterans at a rate disproportionate to the general population. Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War. During the Persian Gulf War, more than 100,000 troops were exposed to plumes of toxins after U.S. forces blew up the Iraqi ammo dumps containing chemical and biological weapons. These veterans and the next generation deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq were exposed to oil fires, as well as the toxic smog from burn pits in which chemicals, ordnance, and even body parts were incinerated.
“H.R. 5484 is a simple and straightforward proposal that will begin the needed research in the search for answers for the children, grandchildren, and in some cases, great-grandchildren who are manifesting a range of health issues suspected to be a result of a parent’s exposure to toxins while serving in the armed forces. We applaud Congressmen Benishek and Honda for introducing this bill that addresses the conditions that are so heart-breaking to so many families,” Rowan said.