Whilst not a formal organisation, we have been very active as group to promote and publicize our Governments denial to offer our 1977-1980 cleanup mission participants the same healthcare offered to Atomic Test era Veterans. The website and public Facebook page was created by Frank Bolton to increase public exposure and to find other surviving participants.
Our main focus is to help each other with information and moral support during challenging times. Our secondary focus is to urge Congress to change the current laws and recognize soldiers of the cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.” By obtaining this goal, we will be eligible to apply for funds set-aside for those who experience health complications due to radiation exposure at Enewetak Atoll. Atomic Debris Cleanup Participants are not included in the U.S. Government’s definition because “Congress has not created any presumptions for veterans or civilians based on residual contamination of nuclear tests at Enewetak Atoll.”
We served our country by participating in the Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission. The Marshallese People have returned to their homeland. The U.S. Government awarded us Humanitarian Medals for our efforts and we appreciate their praise. However, many of our survivors and their families have health challenges that are not inexpensive.
The Justice Department has ruled for medical funds to be available for those who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service, but Congress has refused to include cleanup participants in that definition.
As a result of this group, we have reconnected with approximately 800 Participants. There are also a number of other Facebook groups as part of the group:
Enewetak Atoll Clean-up Vets. is a private Facebook group moderated by Gary Pulis, Richard Masculine (deceased), Girard Frank Bolton III, Paul Laird (deceased) and Mark Sargent. https://www.facebook.com/groups/120395714769077/
Lojwa Animals is a private Facebook group moderated by Beverly Androl and David Roach. https://www.facebook.com/groups/LOJWAANIMALS/
Lojwa Animal Pound is a public Facebook group moderated by Beverly Androl and David Roach. https://www.facebook.com/groups/653341041417596/
Atomic Cleanup Vets is engaged in advocacy on the following federal legislation: H.R.1377/S.555 - the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act. This bill would “provide for the treatment of veterans who participated in the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll as radiation-exposed veterans for purposes of the presumption of service-connection of certain disabilities by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.”
H.R. 3783 /S. 947, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019. This bill would extend RECA until 2045 (it is currently set to sunset in 2022), would expand coverage to clean up veterans, and would increase the amount of money atomic veterans are able to receive from $75,000 to $150,000.
Atomic Cleanup Vets is working with the Marshallese Community to organize “Nuclear Remembrance Day” on Feb 28th - March 1st, 2020 in Springdale, AK, to raise awareness of the shared nuclear legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. Atomic Cleanup Vets works continuously to raise awareness on their issues.
They pursue local, national, and even international media coverage, and have a Speakers Bureau, whose members often speak at public events and are available to request for events.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLABORATION
Atomic Cleanup Vets would welcome support from other organizations on their Congressional advocacy on H.R.1377 and H.R. 3783, especially help making connections with key House and Senate offices in Washington, D.C. They also welcome opportunities to raise awareness of their work through media and speaking opportunities.