From Pat Broudy, Former NAAV Legislative Advisor

Message from Pat Broudy, NAAV Legislative Advisor

Hi, everyone–

Several articles in the L.A. Times, and our local Orange County Register indicate the energy secretary will announce a proposal to provide compensation to workers in nuclear weapons production during the Cold War, which may have caused illnesses in thousands of workers. The Clinton administration will announce proposed legislation that would compensate many of them for their medical care and lost wages.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson detailed the legislation in an interview in which he depicted the workers as victims of the Cold War and the rush to produce nuclear weapons. The workers suffered from cancers and lung diseases after exposure to beryllium, asbestos, mercury, uranium and other materials, under safety standards set by the Energy Department and its predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission.

Energy Department officials have estimated that compensation for those exposed to beryllium, some of whom suffer from a chronic, incurable, obstructive lung disease, will be about $15 million a year at its peak…an estimated 500 to 1,000 have beryllium disease or will develop it.

The government also will study how to compensate people exposed to asbestos and radioactive materials. Radiation poses a particular challenge, because it causes diseases like leukemia and cancers that also have other causes, and the amount of radiation needed to cause a disease is in dispute. (Just what we need, another study.)

Several people involved in the formation of the policy said the Energy Department had originally favored including people exposed to radiation and other threats, but that the White House had demanded further study. Clinton is expected to announce today (July 15, 1999) that the National Economic Council will lead an interagency study, to be completed by April, (which April?) on whether other illnesses should be included.

Congress has just come back, and the legislation proposed by Sen. Wellstone and Rep. Lane Evans, pending before the recess is, for all practical purposes, dead in the water. For all of those exposed to radiation during the nuclear testing, now is the time to contact your representatives and request that the veterans exposed to detritus (fragmented debris) from the bombs (of any kind), also be compensated without the necessity of another study. We’ve been studied to death, and that is literally true–how many are left??? Get on the stick and do it now!!!!

(Orange County Register, July 18, 1999)

Some 200,000 Americans have applied for the Defense Department’s new certificate. The debut of the certificates in April produced so much interest that federal officials have been scrambling to keep up with requests. Some 22 million military veterans and federal government civilian personnel who served during the 46-year standoff are eligible.


Medal legislation sponsored by Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, has passed the Senate. A similar bill by Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., is pending in the House. The Cold War spans the period Sept. 2, 1945, the date Japan surrendered to end World War II, to Dec. 26, 1991, when Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president and the Soviet Union fell apart.


    Who is eligible:
    All members of the armed forces and federal government civilian personnel who faithfully
    served the United States during the Cold War era. Individuals requesting a certificate
    will certify that the character of their service was honorable.
    Acceptable documents for proof of service:
    Any official government or military document with recipient’s name, Social Security or
    Serial number/foreign service number and date of service is acceptable.
    How to request a certificate:
    Mail or fax a letter with proof of eligibility to:
      Cold War Recognition, 4035 Ridge Top Road, Fairfax, VA 22030-7445.
      Fax: (800) 723-9262.
    Additional information:
    Telephone (703) 275-6279, or use the Website

The Associated Press

Pat Broudy