Service Members Face Danger From More Than Enemy Fire

Thousands of U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed to the smoke from burn pits  Photo: Fox News

This Memorial Day we honor the military service of Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation.  In April of 2018, the Department of Defense provided Congress a list of contaminated U.S. military bases — the document, according to Healthline, identified 401 active installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of cancer-causing compounds. Exposure to toxic chemicals and the weapons of war has hastened the death of many service members — and it’s not just them, it is also their family members who are at elevated risk for cancer and other debilitating illnesses.

These are not isolated incidents.  Recently, we reported about the water at or around 126 military installations reportedly contains potentially harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds, which have been linked to cancers and developmental delays for fetuses and infants, and 2,668 groundwater wells both on and in the surrounding off-base community and found that 61 percent of them tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended levels. And these family-member illnesses and deaths have not been covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or other military health care.

Why This Matters:  As a veteran myself, I (Monica) find this unconscionable. The Healthline story explains the problem through the eyes of the son of a servicemember who now has terminal cancer because of the water he drank as an infant at Camp Lejeune.  He is “lucky” because of a special law Congress passed a law in 2012 to cover the out of pocket costs of LeJeune families, but his employer’s health coverage has been expensive because the government has not picked up the full cost of his medical treatments.  His father is angry. “People like my son and other dependent children of those of us who served our country, the families who lived aboard contaminated bases, are left twisting in the wind by our government,” he said. “It’s a tragedy.”

To Go Deeper:  The entire story is worthy of your time and will give you a new appreciation for the sacrifices made by our military and their families.

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