Atomic cleanup veterans asking for public's help in getting medical care

Channel 6 news reporter Andrew Moore reports

A National Veterans organization called the Atomic Cleanup Veterans are asking for your help.

After the U.S. Military conducted over 40 nuclear bomb tests on some small islands in the south Pacific, the U.S. government decided to try and clean the sites so people native to the islands could return.

The Army sent several companies of soldiers to do the job and this veteran’s organization said many got cancer as a result.

After forming a national organization to get back in touch six years ago, the group could only find 539 soldiers still alive. More than 8,000 participated in the mission.

Army Veteran Michael Horten said his bones and teeth deteriorated rapidly after his service and he has had more than 40 sprains and fractures.

Horten, and another veteran Channel 6 spoke with said they were stationed only a few 100 yards from previous nuclear tests and only a few miles from major tests that left giant craters – all of which had lingering radiation.

Despite this, they said they were issued boots, pants and t-shirts – not the contamination-proof suits shown in presentations to congress.

Horten said even now he is proud to have served his country, but the VA needs to give them the same medical coverage provided to other veterans who worked on nuclear projects.

“we have children who are sick,” Horten said. “these invisible bullets in us don’t go away, recognize us and give us the care and benefits we need.:

The organization has two bills going through the United States Congress right now, H.R. 632 and S 283.

Both bills would make these veterans eligible for cancer treatment, much like those who served near nuclear sites in World War II are.

Horten hopes people in Central Texas will call their representatives in support. 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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