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AMAC Supports Creation of Atomic Veterans Service Medal

amacAs part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, AMAC is supporting the creation of the Atomic Veterans Service Medal and funding the necessary office with the Department of Defense to implement the program. More than 225,000 members of the Armed Forces have been exposed to radiation during atomic weapons testing. While the program has been declassified, there has never been any recognition of their service and the impact this radiation has had on their lifelong health. AMAC supports the duty, honor, and service of these veterans.

October 29, 2020

The Honorable James Inhofe
Chairman
Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Adam Smith
Chairman
House Committee on Armed Services
2121 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member
House Committee on Armed Services
2216 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairmen Inhofe and Smith and Ranking Members Reed and Thornberry,

On behalf of our over 2.3 million members of the Association of Mature American Citizens (“AMAC”) and of which hundreds of thousands are veterans, we strongly urge the Conferees negotiating the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to retain Section 581 of H.R. 6395 in the House-passed FY 2021 NDAA. Section 581 would create, issue, and distribute
the Atomic Veterans Service Medal to honor our nation’s Atomic Veterans.

The Atomic Veterans are retired and former members of the Armed Services who were exposed to radiation during the years following the end of World War II. Between 1945 and 1962, about 225,000 members of our Armed Forces participated in hundreds of nuclear weapons tests.
Thousands of other GIs were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation as a part of the U.S. military occupation forces during World War II in Japan, and those who were held as POWs in and around Hiroshima and Nagasaki before 1946.

All were sworn to secrecy, unable to even talk to their doctors about their past exposure to radiation. It is vital to note the unique nature of this group of Atomic Veterans and the urgent need to recognize their service. No other cohort has been recognized as eligible for specialized testing and treatment by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

No other cohort but this group has been recognized by three former presidents for their unique service:
• President Reagan designated July 16, 1983 as National Atomic Veterans’ Day;
• President Bush recognized this group as a discrete cohort of American veterans who are eligible for compensation by the Department of Justice under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990; and
• President Clinton issued a public apology in 1995 following the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments’ landmark report.

The creation of an Atomic Veterans Service Medal has received overwhelming bi-partisan support in the House for years. For five years this bipartisan amendment received unanimous votes in the House, and in FY20 and FY21, the provision was included in the base text of the House NDAA. Despite such strong bipartisan support, this provision has yet to be included in the final Conference Report.

Tragically, upwards of 80 percent of American Atomic Veterans have already died before the COVID-19 pandemic, never having received this recognition. Time is running out for these veterans and we are very concerned how many more we will lose to the pandemic because of
their age and vulnerability.

We strongly urge you to include Section 581, establishing the Atomic Veterans Service Medal and finally recognize these veterans’ duty, honor, sacrifice, and selfless service to our nation with the creation of an Atomic Veterans Service Medal.

Sincerely,

Bob Carlstrom
President,
AMAC Action

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Christa Guenther
7 days ago

My father died from Multiple Myeloma attributed to his exposure in the Atomic tests while in the National Guard.
I appreciate the effort to recognize his service and service related death.

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