Senator Tina Smith (MN), introduced S. 2821, the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act. The bill is named after the late Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai, a veteran of the U.S. Army and Hawaii Army National Guard who passed away in 2016 and was the original sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives.
From 1977 to 1980, the United States conducted nuclear testing on the Enewetak Atoll. More than 30 megatons of TNT nuclear testing took place and a concrete dome was built to deposit radioactive soil and debris. However, existing statutes only recognize those veterans who participated in nuclear testing on Enewetak Atoll from 1951 to 1959.
Current statutes regarding presumptive service connection for radiation exposure defines a radiation-exposed veteran as a veteran that, while on active duty, participated in a radiation risk activity. S. 2821 will expand recognized radiation risk activities to include the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll from January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1980. This bill will provide presumptive exposure to thousands of veterans who participated in the testing and clean-up and who were previously excluded as radiation exposed veterans.
DAV supports this legislation as it is in concert with DAV Resolution No. 043, to recognize veterans exposed to radiation while performing clean-up duties. Please use the prepared letter or draft your own to urge your Senators to support and cosponsor S. 2821.
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