Senator Uecker speaks about the importance of helping military families exposed to toxic chemicals

The Ohio Senate passed a resolution today, sponsored by State Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township), calling on Congress to enact the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. If Congress approves the measure, assistance would be provided to families and individuals affected by exposure to toxic chemicals used during times of military conflict. 

“We owe it to the brave men and women who have defended our country with honor and sacrifice during military conflicts by providing them with the resources necessary to live healthy lives,” said Uecker.

During the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, troops have been exposed to burn pits, oil fires, and potentially tainted vaccines.   More than 100,000 service members were exposed to toxic chemicals from a single smoke plume during the Persian Golf War when an Iraqi ammo dump was destroyed by U.S. forces. 

The U.S. military used Agent Orange from 1962 to 1975 during the Vietnam conflict to remove leaves from trees that provided cover for enemy forces. This chemical was later linked to certain cancers and other diseases in service members exposed to it. Certain birth defects in the children of service members were also attributed to exposure to Agent Orange. 

Over the years, much progress has been made to deliver benefits and services to those impacted by toxic chemicals. However, work still needs to be done to guarantee information is shared and available to aging descendants. 

The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 creates a national center for research within the existing framework of the Department of Veterans Affairs focused on the health conditions of service members’ descendants. A newly created advisory board will inform the research center of services that should be developed for descendants or changes in health conditions that impact this population.

The Act also establishes a national outreach campaign to disseminate information on exposure rates and the resulting health conditions. 

Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 now goes to the House of Representative for further consideration. 

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