more music to our ears: 200,000 Veterans Denied Medal Honoring Service in Nuclear Weapons Tests – McGovern Calls on Trump to Honor These Vets!

McGovern Profile Photo 1ab(1)
Congressman Jim McGovern

Congressman Jim McGovern (expressed his outrage that Senate Republicans removed a provision in the Fiscal Year 18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would create the Atomic Veterans Service Medal honoring more than 200,000 American veterans. Congressman McGovern is a co-author of the bipartisan provision to recognize the service of these veterans who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation while conducting nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962. Congressman McGovern has called on President Trump to right this wrong by issuing an executive order to create the medal honoring these veterans.

In July 2017, the House unanimously approved Congressman McGovern’s amendment to create the service medal by a vote of 424-0. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) is the author of an amendment to include the service medal in the Senate version of the NDAA. With the provision being dropped from the Conference Report, this is the third consecutive year that Senate Republican leaders have prevented these veterans from being honored.

“I am outraged that for the third consecutive year, an amendment to create a service medal for our Atomic Veterans has been dropped from the NDAA Conference Report. I find this particularly shocking as this amendment, which I offered with my Republican colleague, Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN), was approved by the House unanimously by a vote of 424-0,” Congressman McGovern said. “The Pentagon remains silent on honoring the service of our Atomic Veterans, arguing that to do so would diminish the service of other military personnel who are tasked with dangerous missions. This is a pitiful excuse. I hope we can convince the Senate or the Pentagon to finally do the right thing, before it’s too late. More than 75 percent of Atomic Veterans have already passed away, never having received this recognition. We owe it to our veterans to honor them for their selfless service to our nation.”

“While we will never be able to fully repay their sacrifices for our nation, the simple act of recognizing the hundreds of thousands of our Atomic Vets is well past due,” Senator Markey said. “I am incredibly disappointed that the NDAA Conference Committee chose to disregard the overwhelming, bipartisan support in Congress to finally do what is right and recognize the dedication of these brave servicemembers. We will continue fighting to ensure that the brave men and women who were exposed to radiation in the line of duty are properly honored.”

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Statement is Below:

“I thank the Ranking Member for yielding. I am outraged that for the third consecutive year, an amendment to create a service medal for our Atomic Veterans has been dropped from the NDAA Conference Report. I find this particularly shocking as this amendment, which I offered with my Republican colleague, Congressman Tom Emmer, was approved by the House unanimously by a vote of 424-0.

“It is unclear to me why our colleagues in the Senate are determined to deprive our Atomic Veterans this most basic recognition of their honorable service.

“Between 1945 and 1962, about 225,000 members of our military participated in hundreds of nuclear weapons tests. These GIs were placed in extremely dangerous areas and were constantly exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation in performance of their duties. They were sworn to secrecy, unable to even talk to their doctors about their past exposure to radiation.

“Thankfully, Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush recognized the Atomic Veterans’ valiant service, and acted to provide specialized care and compensation for their harrowing duty.

“In 2007, our allies Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia enacted their versions of this amendment by authorizing a medal to honor their Atomic Veterans who served with the United States.

“Regrettably, the Pentagon remains silent on honoring the service of our Atomic Veterans, arguing that to do so would diminish the service of other military personnel who are tasked with dangerous missions. M. Speaker, this is a pitiful excuse.

“Tragically, more than 75 percent of Atomic Veterans have already passed away, never having received this recognition. They served honorably and kept a code of silence that most certainly led to many of these veterans passing away prematurely.

“Past administrations and Congresses have dealt with the thornier issues of legality and compensation. What remains is recognizing these veterans’ duty, honor and faithful service to our nation. And time is running out.

“I thank my colleagues here in the House for supporting this amendment. With your continued support, I hope we can convince the Senate or the Pentagon to finally do the right thing, before it’s too late. We owe it to our veterans to honor them for their selfless service to our nation.”