Rep. Thompson Applauds Inclusion of Provisions to Help Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances in NDAA

Nov 14, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05) released this statement following the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which included a provision from his legislation, the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act:

“With the passage of this provision, veterans who struggle with health problems resulting from toxic exposure in classified incidents will finally get the justice and resources they deserve,” said Rep. Thompson. “These veterans have served our nation honorably and today’s vote rectifies backwards policies that prevented them from getting the benefits they’d earned.”

Veterans who have health conditions that are linked to exposure to toxic substances during their military service are eligible to apply for disability benefits and health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, some military operations and projects that resulted in their exposure to toxic substances remain classified by DoD, despite having taken place decades ago. 

The provisions from Thompson’s bill, H.R. 3327, the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act, that were included in the NDAA require the Department of Defense to conduct a declassification review of documents related to any known incident in which no less than 100 members of the Armed Forces were exposed to a toxic substance.

Additionally, the Department of Defense yesterday responded to this letter from Reps. Thompson, Jones, and Marshall. In the response, the Department granted their request for a comprehensive report detailing why a DoD contractor tasked with identifying servicemembers and civilian personnel that may have been exposed to toxic substances in classified incidents did not complete work on time and how the funds allocated to that contractor were spent.