For Immediate Release: September 8, 2005
Contacts: Charles Sheehan-Miles, 202-558-4553
In Letter to President, Veterans Concerned for Health of Troops in Gulf Coast;
Call for Federalizing National Guard Units Deployed in New Orleans
Washington, DC — Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a nonpartisan veterans’ organization with 14,000 members, delivered a letter to the President today calling for National Guard units deployed in support of relief efforts in the Gulf Coast to be federalized.
The letter, sent September 8, cited the serious contamination of water and soil in the New Orleans area, noting that many service-members are expected to be deployed in the area for months and may suffer long-term health effects due to exposure to some toxins.
“The big lesson from Gulf War illnesses,” says Charles Sheehan-Miles, the group’s executive director, “is that we must have data in order to track what’s going on with the troops. That’s why we believe the federal government must coordinate not only deployment of troops, but also long-term health monitoring.”
Sheehan-Miles also pointed out that National Guard units activated by the state, rather than the federal government, are not eligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The complete text of the letter is available online at http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org