SAN NICOLAS INTRODUCES BI-PARTISAN BILL TO ADDRESS HERBICIDE EXPOSURE ON CENTRAL PACIFIC ISLANDS
Congressman Michael San Nicolas (D-GUAL), Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL12), Congresswoman Aumua Radewagen (R-AS00), and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ06) have introduced the bi-partisan H.R. 1713, a bill that would grant presumptive herbicide exposure status to U.S. service members who served on the islands of Guam and American Samoa between the period of January 9, 1962 and July 31, 1980, or Johnston Atoll between the period of January 9, 1962 and July 31, 1980. The Lonnie Kilpatrick Central Pacific Relief Act honors a Navy Veteran stationed on Guam who died due to herbicide exposure. Mr. Kilpatrick was awarded his service-connection related this concern shortly before his death. His last words “Make it count” have become a rallying cry for Veterans who advocate justice for their fellow men and women who have become ill due to herbicide exposure.
“The historical data is conclusive that extremely harmful levels of dioxin were present and service members were undoubtedly exposed. The environment was also impacted, with saturation levels prolonging exposures on a regular basis. The harm is undeniable, and the need for justice equally so,” said Congressman San Nicolas.
“I am honored to work with my colleague to spearhead the ‘The Lonnie Kilpatrick Central Pacific Herbicide Relief Act.’ We must take care of those who served our country, ensuring that they have access to the care they need as a result of exposure to toxins during their service. This bill is named in honor of my friend and constituent, Lonnie Kilpatrick, who sadly passed away from an illness related to Agent Orange exposure during his service in Guam. I don’t want to see other families continue to suffer the way Lonnie’s has,” said Representative Gus Bilirakis.
“A great many U.S. Veterans live in the Pacific islands, and in American Samoa. We’re proud of our people’s high enlistment rate,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata. “Through this legislation, our country keeps the national commitment to Veterans, and recognizes the dangers and long-term health risks they faced.”
A recent Government Accountability Office (GOA) report confirmed herbicide use on the islands of Guam and American Samoa, which have negatively impacted veterans stationed at military bases in the 1960's and 1970's. Additional government documents have confirmed the use of herbicides through 1980. A Public Health assessment of the fire training school at Andersen Air Force Base found a dioxin concentration of 19,000 parts per million. For the general population, a level of 100 parts per billion would still pose a hazard.
Congressman San Nicolas is grateful to Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL12), Congresswoman Aumua Radewagen, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ06) for their commitment towards gaining recognition for our Veterans. Congressman San Nicolas is equally thankful for the advocacy efforts of Military-Veterans Advocacy Executive Director Commander John B Wells, USN (ret) and Agent Orange Survivors of Guam leader Brian Moyer for their dedication and support towards this mission.