Kildee Introduces Bill to Ensure Veterans Exposed to Toxic Chemicals Get Health Care, Benefits Owed to Them
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today introduced the Care for Veterans Act to ensure that veterans and their families exposed to toxic chemicals at former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda, Mich., get the health care services and benefits they need through the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). Kildee's legislation would ensure that veterans exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) --such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene--are eligible to receive health care and disability benefits from the VA.
TCE was used at Wurtsmith to remove grease and paint while the base was in operation. Exposure to TCE has been connected to many cancers including kidney, liver and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Benzene is often found in gasoline and has been linked to leukemia and other cancers of blood cells. According to a 2018 study completed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, veterans serving at Wurtsmith were exposed to these chemicals after drinking well water contaminated by these chemicals.
"Our country makes a sacred promise to our veterans: if they protect us, we will care for them and their families. My bill, the Care for Veterans Act, makes good on that promise for service members who were exposed to toxic chemicals as a part of their military service. If any veteran was exposed to TCE, benzene or PFAS chemicals, we must ensure that they have access to the health care they need. We owe our veterans nothing less for their service to our country."
Congressman Kildee has previously introduced legislation focused on taking care of Veterans affected by the contamination surrounding Wurtsmith Air Force base in 2018.