The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment offered by Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02), Congressman Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Congressman Ed Whitfield (KY-01) to help provide relief to Cold War weapons program facilities workers, such as those who worked at the Rocky Flats Plant near Boulder, Colorado, who have been denied benefits claims for decades. The measure, that successfully amended the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 1960, expresses a Sense of Congress that the President should establish an advisory board on toxic substances and worker health to advise the Labor Department's review of weapons program facilities workers' benefits applications.
"We owe our Cold War veterans a great debt of gratitude for their service to our country, and we have a duty to ensure that Rocky Flats workers are given the medical benefits they deserve to care for their work-related illnesses," said Rep. Polis. "It is unacceptable that individuals in my district who worked at the Rocky Flats Plant and as a result have contracted multiple cancers and illnesses are dying before their applications are even processed. Creating an advisory board would be an important first step to fix a severely broken application review system."
"This is about justice," said Rep. Perlmutter. "These workers risked their lives to protect this nation and helped end the Cold War, and they are entitled to receive the proper health care and benefits for this unselfish sacrifice to our country. These workers earned the right to a fast and fair process to improve the processing of claims for these eligible workers."
"The Cold War-era nuclear arms race was a trying time our country, and especially for those who worked in the construction of atomic weapons," stated Whitfield. "That is especially true at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which is why I have been pushing for this initiative for the last several years. We must ensure that these brave men and women receive health benefits for any workplace-related illness that may have resulted from their service to our country."
During the Cold War, approximately 600,000 American workers were employed at U.S. atomic weapons program facilities throughout the country. Many of these workers, including those who worked at the Rocky Flats Plant, were unknowingly exposed to radioactive and toxic substances at work and as a result these "Cold War Patriots" later developed cancers and other diseases they are managing to this day. Unfortunately, bureaucratic hurdles and delays have prevented Cold War weapons program facilities workers from receiving the benefits they deserve to care for the illnesses they contracted.