Sidney Moss: Stands with McGovern on ‘atomic veterans’

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Kudos to our Congressman Jim McGovern’s determined effort to honor our vets in WWII. (“McGovern’s ‘Atomic veterans’ amendment clears House,” July 15) and praise too, for the Gazette editorial (“‘Atomic vets’ deserve recognition,” July 18). Both honor the 250,000 “atomic veterans” who had exposed themselves to radiation during nuclear weapons testing from 1945 up to 1962.

Until 1996, these veterans were sworn to secrecy and not legally allowed to discuss their exposure with their doctor or to apply to the Veterans Administration for treatment and disability benefits. Only in 1996 did “atomic veterans” who developed any of 21 types of cancer become eligible for compensation.

McGovern spoke with some “atomic veterans” a few years ago who complained that they had not been formally recognized by the military — “no ribbon, no medal, nothing from the Pentagon.” The Pentagon did not recognize them, arguing that “to do so would diminish the service of other military personnel who are tasked with dangerous missions.” On the House floor, McGovern responded, “This is ‘a pitiful excuse.’”

I see McGovern’s concern for recognition for the “atomic vets” as a concern for justice, as well. Let nothing like this happen again! I believe it was not ethical for the U.S. military to treat the vets as objects in their nuclear tests.

I urge the public to support McGovern’s House Resolution 2754 to create a service medal for “atomic veterans.”

Sidney Moss