We are but a few of the Survivors of the 1977-1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission in the Marshall Islands.
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.”
Our main focus is to help each other with information and moral support during challenging times of our declining health.
As much as we appreciate our health practitioners, not every doctor, nurse, nor medical technician is experienced with identifying nor treating patients with illnesses caused by exposure to radiation.
The Veterans Administration published a 5 hour continuing education coursebook in an effort to help health practitioners who have Atomic Veterans as patients.
It is mainly focused on understanding health issues of the Atomic Vets who participated in the 1944-1958 Atomic Testing and at Japan’s two bomb sites.
However, it would be naive to believe none of these health issues could apply to the soldiers who cleaned up radioactive debris and fallout from the tests at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Many of the atomic cleanup participants breathed and ingested radiation contaminated dust on a daily basis for 5-1/2 months at a time. Some of us participated in more than one tour and served for longer periods of time.
We had a mission. We bonded. We did our jobs. We served. Now we have health issues. Some of our family members have inherited health issues.
Encourage your health practitioners to download and read the very specific information regarding heath care of veterans exposed to radiation.
But before you share it with them, download and read it for your own knowledge. Pay particular attention to the Presumptive List of Cancers due to exposure to IR in service on page 57 of the PDF document.
I am in awe of F. Lincoln Grahlfs’ recollection of his exposure to radiation after the end of the war and the challenges he experienced while trying to get the VA to help him and his family. Many of his challenges of dealing with the military and congress as an Atomic Veteran is very similar to our difficulties and feelings as Atomic Cleanup Vets. His observations and statistics are equally impressive.
We can change our situation by continuing to share information and encouraging others to do the same.
We urge our supporters to encourage their politicians to create legislation which will include us in the U.S. Government’s definition of a veteran “who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”
Article written by Girard Frank Bolton, III. 1977-1979 Atomic Debris Cleanup Participant with C Company and HHC S-3 (Operations) of the 84th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy) (Fwd) Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands.
Source material content for this article was found on websites owned by the Veterans Administration.