Roughly a dozen veterans — half of them with canes — marched from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the White House Saturday morning. They want the government to create a health registry for veterans who served at Fort McClellan prior to its closing in 1999 due to toxic contaminants.
Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., proposed the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act to assist veterans previously stationed there. Many of the men seek help for health problems possibly linked with the toxic chemicals once kept on the Army post.
The group included Sal Caiozzo of Poisoned Veterans and Stephen Fails of Battled Proven Foundation — both leading the cause to spread awareness about the toxic exposure at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama.
Chanting, “Sent me to a poison land, toxic water air and sand. Now we’re dying everyday — with zero help from VA,” — the group said veterans deserve to know why they might have health problems, including cancer and Multiple Sclerosis, caused by the contamination they were exposed to during their time at Fort McClellan.
The Army Chemical School, where training occurred for live chemical weapons, was located at Fort McClellan. The Environmental Protection Agency shuttered the Army post in 1999 and listed it as a high-priority Superfund cleanup site.
EPA documents say its operations “generated solid and liquid wastes that contaminated soil and ground water.”
Veteran Jesse Smith organized The Trail of Toxicity March to spread awareness.
Mr. Smith has said evidence of the toxins and their effects are overwhelming, and veterans have to advocate for themselves.
“We can’t expect the people who are in Washington to advocate on our behalf,” he said.