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Law Enforcement Today | December 21, 2014

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Poisoned Patriots of Ft. McClellan

Poisoned Patriots of Ft. McClellan
Elizabeth Dilts

What we have here, is a failure to communicate….Specifically, the Federal Government and the Veterans Administration are refusing to tell the veterans of Ft. McClellan, Alabama, the former home Military Police training school, that they have been exposed to toxic chemicals.  Please take a moment to think about that.  People were exposed to dangerous chemicals that are known to cause serious health conditions to include cancer, endocrine disorders, autoimmune disease, neurological problems, and diabetes, but the government is refusing to inform them even though the facts are undisputed.

If you aren’t outraged yet, let me add that spouses and children were exposed as well and they have not been told either.  They have illnesses, some of which are very serious, and no answers.  Imagine a young child with a serious illness and parents and doctors who have no idea how this could have happened because they do not know of the exposure.  Imagine a 47-year-old man with early onset dementia, tumors, and the bones of a 90-year-old man.  Imagine a woman with cancer and autoimmune disorders despite no family history of this.  These are some of the faces of Ft. McClellan veterans.

I am not just referring to the chemical spills from the chemical school there, although they contributed to the problem too.  The veterans and their families were exposed to a toxic soup of chemicals from years and years of dumping, improper containment, and spills of dangerous toxic chemicals from Monsanto (think PCB’s, Dioxins, Roundup weed killer, Agent Orange, and genetically modified food) which turned Ft. McClellan and the neighboring town of Anniston into a disease and death causing toxic cesspool.  In short, if you were stationed at Ft. McClellan between 1933 and 1999, you were exposed to these chemicals and possibly ionizing radiation if you were at the firing range. The only question is how it will affect you.

 How bad is it?   In 1966, a study was conducted by a University of Mississippi biologist.  He placed 25 Bluegill fish into one of the streams. He reported to Monsanto that the fish became disoriented within 10 seconds and died within 3 ½ minutes.  Another of the biologists reported that it was like “dunking the fish in battery acid”. The fish spurted blood and shed their skin as though being placed in boiling water.

Yet another biologist said, “The skin would literally slough off.” Sometime thereafter, a dog drank from the stream and died.  For the dog lovers, he wasn’t part of the study – just an incidental occurrence that got reported.  Since this was a Monsanto sponsored study, the results were not made public and Monsanto continued business as usual.

Once the EPA became actively involved, Ft. McClellan was closed down in 1999.  It was declared a toxic site and was federally mandated to be decontaminated so the cleanup began. In 2009, 60 Minutes called Anniston one of the most toxic places in our country.

The childhood cancer rate in Anniston is heartbreaking and the diseases of the residents were caused by their exposure to the chemicals.  In 2003, the City of Anniston sued Monsanto and obtained $700 million dollars for the residents.  The veterans were never advised of the suit but worse; they were excluded from it, presumably because the V.A. would be responsible for any medical care or disability for the chemical exposure for the veterans.

We have come full circle.  The government is supposed to be responsible for the medical care and any disability of these veterans, which arose from their exposure while stationed at Ft. McClellan, but they elect not to tell them that their illnesses may be caused from toxic chemical exposure.  Even when the veterans apply for medical care, the government denies the care because the veterans haven’t stated a causal connection between their service and the disease.

Interesting, since the VA and the government know exactly what the cause is, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has a duty to assist in perfecting those claims.  Obviously, that isn’t happening.  The only one that doesn’t know about the chemical exposure is the veteran. This is a convenient and money saving stance for the government, but a bit off course on the moral compass; I’d say by about 180 degrees, but you can make your own determination.

Several years ago, some Representatives introduced what is now HR2052, the Ft. McClellan Health Registry Act.  The bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create and maintain a registry of veterans that were stationed at Ft. McClellan and advise them of updates, provide medical care, and give a presumption of service connection for disability claims for any disease, which arises from chemical/toxic exposure at Ft. McClellan, Alabama.  This bill has been lingering in committee and is not expected to become law because the public doesn’t know about it so no one is pushing them to make it law.

In the meantime, veterans from all four branches of the military that trained at Ft. McClellan still have no idea that they were exposed to these toxins.  They have no idea why they and/or their spouses and children are ill.

While this article is meant to be thought provoking and informative, I must ask each reader to ask their fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement if they were stationed at Ft. McClellan, and if so, to give them this information.  Your support of HR2052 would also be appreciated if you are so inclined, but the main goal is getting the information to the veterans.

On a parting note, Homeland Security, some National Guard Units, and other law enforcement training is still occurring at Ft. McClellan on a short-term basis.  While the base has allegedly been brought to “acceptable” safety standards, the cleanup is still ongoing and is incomplete.  If you accept training there, I would consider skipping the showers and bringing bottled water.

Linked below is a link to a video produced by a veteran stationed at Ft. McClellan.   Please take a minute to watch it.

YouTube

Learn more about this article here:

Government environmental impact study  http://www.mcclellan.army.mil/ArticlesRelate.asp?RelDoc=/Documents/Preliminary%20Assessments/Final%20EBS%20Vol%20I%20&%20II/

The Washington Post, “Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution”:              http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0101-02.htm

60 Minutes “Toxic Secret”, Nov 2009

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-570593.html

Comments

  1. We need 25,000 signatures before July 17, 2012…please, let’s make it happen! http://wh.gov/lqBs

  2. Elizabeth, I am a USMC Veteran MP who trained at Ft. McClellan in 1980. I remember encampment training on a mountain ridge devoid of vegetation and we thought it was because of the rocky make-up of the ridge. Now we know the truth. I already have a medical discharge due to a knee injury and receive medicals from the VA but I do have neurological issues and other issues popping up that run along the lines of the autoimmune issues associated with exposure at McClellan. The VA has been treating them as minor issues but will not classify it or be proactive in connection with the exposure. I am providing them with as much information as possible to try to push the issue and have contacted several Congressmen to try to help. I have also spread the word to fellow Veterans and hope we can get this moving. As far as Gordon’s petition on the white house site above, while I applaud the effort, I am skeptical of anything the sitting president “promises” especially when he requires such detailed identification simply to sign a petition. And for him to require 25000 signatures for a petition to provide care in a situation where illness or injury to even one person who defends this country should demand the attention of our government is outrright obscene.

    • We need two things: 1. Public attention and pressure to get the legislation passed 2. To get the word out to all veterans and their families. Even if they didn’t serve there, they likely know someone who did.
      The veterans that have toxic exposure illnesses need to seek the assistance of VSO’s to file claims. You can print the 1200 plus page study if you are inclined and/or attach a copy of HR2052. No, it isn’t law yet, but the fact that there is proposed legislation is evidence for your claim.
      If anyone has a VSO that does not wish to help, get me their name and number or email address and I will do what I can to educate the VSO about this issue.
      Best of luck to you and thank you for your service to our country.

      • I did basic training and MP training at Ft. McClellan in 1992-1993…..I was later diagnosed with Stage III Colorectal cancer at the age of 29. I am also have neurological problems that are causing back pain and twitching I cannot control in my hands. I am also aware in the last six months that my face has patches of white that will not tan. It is so embarrassing that I am going to the VA dermatologist in a few weeks to find out what it is. The civilian dermatologist cannot explain it. Did I mention there is absolutely no family history of colon cancer on eithe the paternal or maternal sides of my family. I would like to know more about this HR2052 and what I can do. Thanks. I had no idea that Ft. McClellan was a chemical nightmare until I went looking for the address for a Gov. job. :(

    • One more thing….my next story will likely be Lejune’s Lethal Legacy. As a former marine, you will need to tell your fellow veterans about that one as well.

  3. I was station there in 1977, and again in 1979, wow, Vietnam all over again, I have lost several friends due to the Government delay, and getting our Veterans HELP…WHY???
    HR-2052, is a good ideal, but how many YEARS will go by before it becomes law, and then getting the Medical help for vets and families stationed there.
    In the mean time many Service members, both male and females will die, and for what!!
    I am a Veterans Claims professional, as I along with a few friends saw a need for this in our area, after the local VFW closed down the program of assisting Veterans.
    So, Here is my email and please contact me and maybe we can start the claims process, but remember, VA wants to see treatment during and or after Military service, so many Vets are coming around 40 years later, and they(VA) has a hard time believing the claim.
    My email::: carlellison1957@yahoo.com
    Please pass this along to all of our Brothers and Sisters who served at McCellan.
    Thanks
    Carl

  4. First, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work you do. I had no idea how difficult your job was until I started this project. Some of the stories break my heart.
    Your assessment is correct. Until public pressure mounts to force this bill out of committee, they will leave it there. This will cost more money than they are prepared to spend in disability and medical treatment so the longer they can put if off, the more money they save.
    Do what you can to get the word out to fellow vets.

  5. First I’d like to say a great big Thank You, to Elizabeth for doing all the legwork to get this article written. Second, as a US Army Veteran that served at McClellan in 1978 in basic training and MP School, I am outraged and appalled that this has not gone before Congress. I am mad as Hell and I’m sick of being sick! Not only did I serve my Great Nation as an MP, but I served the citizens of Los Angeles County, CA as a Deputy Sheriff for 13 years. Words cannot adequately describe the anger I have, not only for Monsanto, but for those in our government that are failing to make this a HUGE issue! I get that the VA doesn’t want to have to pay us back pay and 100% disability rating that we deserve, but that Congess hasn’t been notified of this tragedy of epic porportions? I understand the fine Congressman from NY Rep- Paul Tonko (D) has introduced House Bill HR-2052 to Congress for review and law, but we, as veterans, need to be screaming at the top of our lungs for something to be done NOW! All these years I wondered why NOTHING worked for my pain, why doctors couldn’t help me, why no one believed me and NOW we have answers to those questions. We know that we have neurological issues, endocrine issues, arthritis that was not due to “growing older” and skin issues that no one had ever seen! I’m on Facebook with Sandy Briggs: Ft. McClellan Toxic Exposure Attention Veterans site and more and more of us are coming forward. It makes me fail to sleep at night. We are in our early 40’s, 50’s and 60’s so now, not only have we had children that may be affected, but we have GRANDCHILDREN that may be affected!!!!! It’s bad enough to be a mother bear, but you mess with my granddaughter and all bets are off. Carl Ellison, thank you! God Bless you! Lord, it makes me sick! What else can I do? I’m telling everyone and anyone that will listen. Do we march to Washington? Who has those answers? Please help us? Thank y’all so much for all you’ve done! God Bless y’all!

  6. While at Ft McClellan in 1985, my wife and I found a bulge on my left rib cage and was told by the doctors there that it was nothing. A few months later, while in Korea, I had exploratory surgery to remove a tumor that was there. A year later they found a 13 1/2 pound rare tumor, that left me disabled. Since then I have had many other problems, including diabetes.

    News articles :
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0101-02.htm

    http://m.upi.com/story/UPI-26761307079624/

    http://lawenforcementtoday.com/2012/07/03/poisoned-patriots-of-ft-mcclellan/

    Petitions:
    https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr2052

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/support-hr-2052-ft-mcclellan-health-registry-act-help-veterans/XwQ3QMlv

  7. Facebook has a page HR2052 Fort McClellan Health registry Act that has links to lots of information and government studies to assist you with any claims with the VA or to just understand the numerous chemicals to which you were exposed. Tell everyone you know about this and try to get this bill pushed out of committee.

  8. I had two miscarriages in the 2-3 years after leaving Ft. McClellan. Could this be related?

  9. Also my daughter has a kidney that is nonfunctioning and completely filled with cysts.

  10. This is crazy! I am still in the Army. I was at Fort McClellan in 1990 and 1994. Just thios year I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. This diagnosis shocked me, as there is no cancer history in my family (outside of a strictly female form). Because my diagnosis came while I’m still on active duty, I assume I will not have issues with collecting service connedcted VA benefits. I wonder if the situation described here will be acknowledged by VA? I am in disbelief over this! Thank you for posting it!

  11. Hey Terrence! Do you remember me? I went to MP school with you. I’m very sick and on 100% service connected. I can help you but I’d like to handle that in PMs. I just signed up here to chat with you and I’m not able to pm you until my account is approved. I have multiple tumors all over my body, even one in my brain. All non cancer but they’re the least of my worries (for now).

    I hope I’m not wrong here but you were in C-787 Drill SGTS Finley and ah the name escapes me but he was mean. Kitt! And Capt Brown am I right?

  12. Hi Paul I’m Tom Altmeyer remember me from boot camp, we were in c787. I’d love to talk to you I have health issues… 716-866-0123…I’d love to hear from you!!!

  13. Well what else is new? Bet if we contaminated Afghanistan we will take of those people. Don’t take care of your people, take care of everyone else. So disappointed.

  14. I appreciate this article. I was on permenant duty at Ft. McClellan for 2 1/2 years from 1990 until 1992. In my life I have had sever arthritis in all of my joints and various gladular related problems. I have never been told about what was going on at Ft. McClellan. My condition has caused me great financial hardship and has cost me my 20 year marriage.
    I served my country with honor and in good faith, the least they could have done is told me about this.

  15. I was wondering if there is anything I can do to sign something? I have survived stage 3 colon cancer at age 29 (doctors have no idea as that is rare with no family history) I am now 40 and having other issues that doctors shake their heads at……..I need to find out if McClellan was the cause ….:(

  16. my late husband was stationed there in 1977.after2 mo.he was walking across the grounds on his way to the barracks.he collapsed fell into a 2 week coma.i was living with our 2 small children in ohio i was to join him later.i contacted his c.o. and he was very vague.they found no ticks or sores from any bites but drs. had no clue our congressman got him medically discharged.he died 1994 septic and drs could not kill poison in his blood

  17. Sue Frasier

    I am the Lead Activist for the Washington Legislation HR 411 and there was NO “agent orange” at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Confirmed so deal with it. We don’t know of any “round up” that was there either. Round Up was not manufactured until well after FMC veterans had moved on to other military bases. This article is only partly right and readers should be warned. The official reporting page for The Fort McClellan legislative Stakeholders Group can be found on Facebook at Fort McClellan PCB Medical Veterans. —— Sue Frasier, Army 1970, national veterans activist and Lead Activist for HR 411 The Fort McClellan Act.

  18. I was only recently made aware of the above post. I do not engage in internet arguments, but I always encourage people to question things rather than follow like a sheep. I will post some of my sources here, and the readers can look up the citations and decide for themselves. Please look up the differences between “tactical” and “non-tactical” applications of Agent Orange to fully understand what these decisions mean. In short, the VA and the DoD admit that Agent Orange may have been used to kill plants, brush, and weeds at Ft. McClellan but that it was not used “tactically” to intentionally cause injury to humans. That was an unfortunate by-product. This is one VA disability decision in which the DoD and the VA admit that Agent Orange could have been used to clear brush and weeds. The claimant also states he personally observed the application of AO taking place and walked through the area near Tiger Village where the AO was being used. Decide for yourselves. http://www.va.gov/vetapp11/files1/1108696.txt

  19. This is a case which shows one of the ways Agent Orange was inadvertently brought back to the U.S., and specifically to Ft. McClellan. http://www.va.gov/vetapp11/Files4/1132526.txt
    In essence, the equipment that was used in Vietnam was not decontaminated before being brought back to the U.S., so the AO remained in and on the equipment causing all personnel who came in contact with the equipment to be exposed. The equipment ranged from small equipment, to truck and tanks. This particular claimant in the case was a chemical equipment repairman at Ft. McClellan and the V.A. stated “the veteran was engaged in activities at Ft, McClellan as a chemical equipment repairman that would have put him in direct contact with Agent Orange.” This claimant was never in Viet Nam but his dioxin level in his blood stream was 5.700 part per trillion and was hard evidence that he had been exposed to herbicides, specifically AO. Again, these are only two cases are hard evidence that AO was at Ft. McClellan. There is significantly more evidence than what I have listed here, but don’t get too caught up in the AO issue as it was only one of the contaminants. The veterans, their families, and DoD employees were exposed to a toxic soup of radiation, other herbicides, pesticides, TCEs, PCBs, severely contaminated air and water, and so much more. Be aware, be vigilent about your health, get regular checkups and screenings, and get the word out so others can do the same.

  20. One last case which proves via a blood sample, cancer which resulted in death, and testimony that the veteran was exposed to Agent Orange at Ft. McClellan. The V.A. conceded and accepted that the veteran was exposed to Agent Orange at Ft. McClellan, as claimed and granted compensation. http://www.va.gov/vetapp07/Files5/0740357.txt

  21. When groundwater samples were analyzed at Ft. McClellan, Alabama for the study that was published in 1998, it was discovered that even after years of cleanup efforts, “the metals which were detected above EPA drinking water MCLs were aluminum, iron, lead, and manganese. The chlorinated compounds include chlorobenzene, 1-1 dichloroethane, 1,2 dichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, and pentachlorophenol. Pesticide related compounds detected in low concentrations include endodulfans I and II, alpha/delta-BHC, heptachor, isodrin, 4,4,-DDD, 4,4-DDE, and 4,4-DDT. The compound related to explosives found in the groundwater was 1,3,5,- trinitrobenzene. Other compounds detected include bis (2-ethylhexl)phthalate, benzo(a)anthracene, and chrysene (SAIC 1993 and 1995a)”

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