(Washington – February 6, 2020) – Veterans for Common Sense, a national veterans organization, today called upon the U.S. government to investigate and address health problems among veterans who served after 9/11 at the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) base in Uzbekistan.
Several McClatchy news articles, including one published on February 3, 2020, indicate that up to 7,000 veterans who served at K2 may have been exposed to an array of dangerous chemicals and radioactive materials on a base previously used by the Soviet army. Although US military assessments identified these hazards and potential health effects, some veterans may have been exposed to contaminated air, soil, water, or food. More than 300 veterans who served at K2 report having cancer and other serious health effects, which they believe was due to toxic exposures at K2.
“These K2 veterans deserve clear answers regarding their exposures, restorative healthcare, and a swift and straightforward path to VA compensation for their service-incurred adverse health outcomes,” said Anthony Hardie, National Chair and Director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Veterans for Common Sense first called attention to toxic exposures at K2 in May 2004 and called for testing and monitoring of veterans. Yet, as the McClatchy articles point out, the military response has been one of denial about both the severity of exposures and the extent of health effects. The government treatment of the K2 veterans is sadly reminiscent of how it has responded to veterans exposed to chemicals from burn pits in Iraq, to a range of toxic exposures during the first Gulf War, to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and to atomic testing and drug experiments in the 1950s and 1960s.
Veterans for Common Sense is in strong support of the K2 veterans and their families in their effort to learn the potential causes of their illnesses and to obtain disability benefits and health care. Moreover, Veterans for Common Sense calls upon the U.S. House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees to hold hearings to hear from these veterans and their families, and to give representatives from the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs opportunities to explain their agencies’ current policies and future plans with regards to aiding and assisting U.S. veterans exposed and rendered ill following their service at K2.
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