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Old 08-17-2013, 01:35 PM   #1
Were you ever stationed at Ft. McClellan, Alabama?

I was. And this is the first I'm hearing of this. Yet another piss-poor handling of our nation's veterans and their health. You're welcome, uncle sam.


Toxic Vets - The Poisonous Legacy of Ft. McClellan
By Denise Williams, August 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Ft McClellanFt. McClellan Alabama no longer exists as an Army base, at least not officially. In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency shut down the base, labeling it a hazardous site. The area is so toxic that it is illegal to sink a well in the surrounding communities.

Even though the base no longer houses military personnel, portions of the site are still used as a training facility and as a depot. The training conducted there is by various entities, including local, state and federal agencies. I wonder if they issue warnings about the site before candidates or employees are sent there, or if they, like the tens of thousands of veterans who once called Ft. McClellan home, get to find out about the contamination through word of mouth.

Next to Ft. McClellan is a small town called Anniston, Alabama. Even if you never heard of the base, the name of the community may ring a bell. In 2003, chemical giant Monsanto settled a case with more than 20,000 residents of the town for $700 million dollars. The suit alleged the company, now operating locally as Solutia, contaminated the water, soil and air of the area so thoroughly and so recklessly with PCB’s and other toxins for decades, 60 Minutes and others have called the place the most toxic place on the planet. One of the others making that claim is the EPA, which has listed the community at the top of its Superfund Sites in need of cleanup.

The settlement has been good for the people of Anniston, but realistically it is small recompense for the sicknesses and deaths this community has suffered. There has also been a dark side to this settlement as well. The terms of the settlement specifically exclude military personnel who were stationed at Ft. McClellan.

The thinking behind this intentional omission, at least publicly, had been that the military and the VA would take care of it’s own. The less public but acknowledged answer is that Monsanto was and is responsible for the PCB contamination, but not for the plethora of other toxins to which the base personnel were exposed. In Monsanto’s defense, they are right.

Sadly, our military does not have the best track record when it comes to protecting the health of it’s personnel. Agent Orange comes to mind. Interestingly, that substance plays a role here as well.

Through the decades of it’s existence Ft. McClellan served many purposes. At the end of the Spanish-American War, it was called Camp Shipp and the mountainous area was viewed as an ideal backdrop for an artillery range, though those hostilities ended before the site was fully utilized. In 1917, Ft. McClellan was formally established as a mobilization center for quickly training men for WWl.

The base was best known, however, for four functions through the years. It was one of the Army’s primary weapons depots and disposal sites from the 1930’s, a function it still serves today, and as the base to which you were sent if you joined the Military Police. If you had signed up or agreed to enter the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Corps, you also spent time at Ft. McClellan. Sadly, Ft. Mac, as it is colloquially known was also home to the WAC, the Women’s Army Corp, until that unit was officially disbanded and absorbed in the regular armed forces in 1978. It is last of these four uses that are most significant when discussing the catastrophic long term effects on personnel who were exposed to the toxic soup that was and is Ft. McClellan.

At the end of WWl, the world became aware of the horrors of using chemical weapons, but it took decades for the most commonly known agent, Mustard Gas, to be eliminated. Since the end of the War to End All Wars, ever more deadly and dangerous chemicals have been developed, stockpiled, used and sometimes destroyed. One of the places these later generations of chemical weapons as well as that old standby Mustard Gas was stored was Ft. McClellan.

That particular toxin, along with Agent Orange, the less well-known but even more toxic Agent Blue, Sarin, VX and a host of other man-made chemical killers were all stored at Ft. McClellan while they awaited their turn in the incinerator. Most spent their time sitting patiently in their containers waiting for destruction, but many of these substances foiled attempts at containment and leaked into the soil, creeks, streams and ultimately the aquifers that fed the wells of Ft. McClellan. Now add in the depleted uranium that is the shell of warheads and missiles and our old friend PCB’s from neighboring Monsanto and a fuller picture of the contents of the toxic soup that comprise the ground and water in and surrounding Ft. McClellan begins to take shape.

The devastating effects on the human body of these chemicals are well known. These effects were the purpose of their development. But, not even the maddest scientists operating in the dark days of Nazi death camps ever conceived of exposing the human body to all of these toxins at once. Happily, or sadly, depending on how you view it, such experiments if conceived would not need to be carried out as there are tens of thousands of United States soldiers who have been so exposed. Ironically though, the effects aren’t officially known. Because the Army and the VA have denied these soldiers diagnoses or even treatment for the diseases from which they suffer, claiming their illnesses are not service related.

Each of these toxins produce known diseases and reactions, even with the most minimal exposure to just a portion of their constituent chemical compounds. Many of these disorders are chromosomal, meaning future generations are effected. That is, if a human being after exposure to some of these agents is left capable of reproducing.
For the past several months, I have been in contact with hundreds of veterans of Ft. McClellan. In every case, they are horrified to find out the illnesses they have been suffering with, often for decades, could have been predicted based on their time at Fort Mac.

The majority of the women veterans suffered a mind numbing, soul crushing six, eight, ten or more miscarriages. The children they were able to bear full term, or at least to a live birth, more often than not suffer a horrifying, yet predictable range of abnormalities, disabilities and medical conditions. Because many of these toxins work on the chromosomal level, nearly as many men fathered children who went on to bear children of their own with abnormalities, disabilities and medical conditions known to be caused by exposure to these chemical agents.

Exactly how many service men and women, much less their offspring, have been affected remains unknown. This is due to the current policy of not informing those who served at this base of their exposure. Word of mouth, veteran to veteran, has been the primary source of information. Many have banded together on social media, started webpages and even put up videos on YouTube, in an effort to advise their fellow Ft. Mac survivors.

“I had just thought I had drawn an unlucky hand in health”, is a common response of those veterans that have been reached.

“I had a radical hysterectomy at 28 years old, after more miscarriages than I can count.”

“I’ve always wondered if I had been exposed to something, ‘cause it made no sense that all my teeth just fell out by the time I was 35.”

“The doctors can’t tell me what is wrong. They call it peripheral neuropathy, but I don’t have diabetes. All I know is there are no drugs that can counter the pain, and it is getting worse.”

“I’ve been fit and active, eating right my whole life. I’m not overweight and no one in my family has ever had diabetes, but suddenly, I have it.”

“I’ve had two different cancers. Now, there is something weird with my bones, they seem to be just dissolving. The doctors said this is not a reaction to the chemo. In fact, they discovered the issue with my bones when they first started me on chemo and radiation.”

“I have something called spinal stenosis.”

“I have every sign and symptom of Agent Orange, but I never went to ‘Nam.”

These are just some of the more common ailments reported in these online groups. Each time someone posts, there are dozens of “me, too” responses, followed up with references to all sorts of documents so each person can be their own healthcare advocate. Suggestions of how best to talk to your doctor are always followed by “I hope you have other than a VA doctor.”

It is really sad that these veterans, as soon as they tell their VA caseworker they are a Ft. McClellan vet, are routinely told that their medical issues will not be covered or treated by the VA. Despite mountains of data proving a direct correlation between these toxins and the diseases for which they are seeking treatment, the VA denies case after case.

This is the part of the story that makes the least sense. The United States Army closed the base because it was declared a toxic site by the EPA. The Department of Defense, the VA and every other government entity acknowledges exposure to these toxins have detrimental effects on the human body. Yet, soldiers who were stationed at this base cannot get the care they need.

The story gets worse.

For the past three years, there has been a bill in one form or another called the “Ft. McClellan Health Registry Act” (current incarnation is HR411) sitting in the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Basically, this bill calls for the VA to grant what is known as ‘presumptive status’ for those who are seeking treatment and served at Ft. McClellan.

The all-important ‘presumptive status’ these veterans seek and which is required to receive treatment simply means that because of their time at Ft. McClellan, it is acknowledged they may have, or develop a range of illness, diseases and disorders. This is the same status that Viet Nam Era veterans fought for decades to get in regards Agent Orange exposure. It is also what was just granted to the hundreds of thousands who were exposed to the open-air burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and at bases around the world.

That is all these veterans are asking for, to be treated for the illnesses they now suffer as a direct result of their service to our country.
“They’re just waiting for us to die. We are dying. Not even aging and dying, just dying before our time. You hear about how overburdened the VA is, so I guess this is their solution. Just wait for us all to die off so they don’t have to take care of us.”

Note – all of the remarks in quotations are things I have been told or seen written by members of the various Ft. McClellan social media groups. With rare exception, these vets have asked not to be named, in fear that the few services they have been able to get, the claims they have been allowed to file will be denied. That is the saddest part of all.

After months of research and scores of calls and emails to the members of the subcommittee, there are still very basic questions unanswered. Party politics and posturing are definitely playing a role, and both sides of the aisle are guilty. Some have told me that because the chair is Republican and the original sponsor of the bill is a Democrat, unless or until a Republican member of the committee cosponsors the bill, it will not even be put on the agenda. Others have told me that unless one of the cosponsors submits a cost analysis and identifies an offset, the bill will not be put on the agenda.

I’d like to remind both sides that the oath these service members took, and indeed, the Constitution they swore to uphold and defend is neither Republican nor Democrat. These are veterans of the United States of America, not pawns in the ever-running game of chess these politicians seem to love to play.

Click the links below for more information, or to contact the members of the committee. Ask them why. If you get an answer, please post it here so we can all know.

Had plans to go out to dinner tonight with Shawn's boss, but that's been canceled so I can research this and what veterans who were exposed to this crap are doing about it.

It explains a lot of my issues for the last almost 20 years.
Old 08-17-2013, 01:48 PM   #2
That is devastating news Hopefully there is a central place where everyone affected can post to each other, if not it might be worth creating one.

With this new information in mind, it might be good to consider an in depth health exam with lab work, done by a doctor who does not have an interest in the outcome one way or the other.
Old 08-17-2013, 02:07 PM   #3
Yes an individual health screen work up is what you need. I would not trust army for honest exam.
Old 08-17-2013, 02:14 PM   #4
Originally Posted by Lucille View Post
That is devastating news Hopefully there is a central place where everyone affected can post to each other, if not it might be worth creating one.

With this new information in mind, it might be good to consider an in depth health exam with lab work, done by a doctor who does not have an interest in the outcome one way or the other.
Thanks Lucille. It IS devastating. I'm posting it here because I know there are a few other MPs here, and I figure there's a good chance they didn't know about this, either. There is a facebook group set up to spread info and network.


Had I not joined the Ft. McClellan graduates group a few days ago, I might never have heard of this. WHY are they not telling veterans who were stationed there?

If you (and not you, just people in general) have ever said a kind word about Monsanto, or defended them, I hate you. HATE you.

Originally Posted by JColt View Post
Yes an individual health screen work up is what you need. I would not trust army for honest exam.
I've never trusted the VA. I've seen how they've treated my father, a retired combat engineer and Vietnam veteran. No thank you.

I'll be scheduling some work with my PCP.
Old 08-17-2013, 02:18 PM   #5
Another article. Geez, they're everywhere. A lot of this is old news. I was out on the road with no access to news when this broke in 2009. Heck, I didn't even realize that McClellan had been decommissioned until just a few years ago. Now I don't watch the news, because I hate the spin. Is it really asking so much, for them to jot out a note to send to those of us who were there? Our lives depend on this!


Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Vets
By alisarog | Posted October 1, 2012 545 Share


There seems to be a dirty little secret that no one in the government wants to tell hundreds of thousands of veterans.

Someone should be responsible enough to notify Ft. McClellan, AL veterans that they were stationed in “America’s Most Toxic Town”, according to a 2009 60 Minutes episode.

These veterans have the right to know that they were exposed from 1935-1999 to chemicals used to manufacture herbicides and Agent Orange, PCB’s, and ionizing radiation.

Not only should these veterans be made aware, but they should be afforded medical care when they develop conditions associated with this exposure.

So, how did the area become so polluted with dioxins? A mammoth agricultural and chemical manufacturer called Monsanto dumped their waste into nearby creeks and landfills.

Through the years this toxic muck seeped into water sources, wildlife have been infected, the air quality was deteriorated, and the soil was toxic.

Incredibly, Monsanto knew this information for four decades before it was made public, yet the company continued to feed toxins into the community and surrounding areas.

In the years since the toxic damage done to Ft. McClellan, the surrounding town of Anniston, and the people who lived or trained there has been exposed, little national attention has been given to the issue.
Despite the fact that Monsanto paid $700 million to Anniston residents in 2003, the veterans who had been stationed at Ft. McClellan were not included in this settlement as it was widely understood that the VA was responsible for the care of these vets. However, the veterans stationed there have never even been notified of their exposure.

According to the VA’s own website, common health problems resulting from exposure to herbicide and Agent Orange exposure include various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy diseases, and more. Looking through the locations that DoD and the VA have identified as potential toxic exposure sites, Ft. McClellan does not make the list.

This leads to an important question: Why has the VA continued to deny the fact that veterans were exposed to toxic chemicals when the side effects in the Anniston, AL population have clearly been identified?

As veterans slowly are slowly being made aware of the exposure through social media and word of mouth, it has answered questions about plaguing health issues. Oftentimes, these health conditions have persisted over decades and presented many years earlier than is typical in normal circumstances.

Most appalling is that while the VA has readily admitted that sites throughout the US are toxic due to the storage and manufacture of materials such as Agent Orange, and thus veterans are entitled to VA compensation, they continue to deny that the exposure has occurred at Ft. McClellan; therefore, refusing to compensate but a handful of the thousands of veterans who have been affected and being crushed under medical bills to treat these conditions.

The one ray of hope for veterans who have been exposed and are now suffering is Congressman Paul Tanko (D). In May 2011, Tonko supported and presented H.R.2052: Fort McClellan Health Registry Act which will create a registry of all veterans stationed at the installation during the years of exposure, provides outreach to the veterans and compensation for those suffering.

However, that ray of hope is not very bright. The bill has been stuck at the House and Senate for months, and the petition to get it passed has failed to get the required amount of signatures; therefore, it has been restarted.

The current petition needs 25,000 signatures by October 24, 2012 and is falling substantially short.
Frankly, the fact that this petition cannot generate the signatures needed speaks volumes about the tight lid that has been kept on this situation. There were hundreds of thousands of veterans affected by the negligence at Ft. McClellan.

If all of those vets had been notified or word was spread more quickly it is certain that this petition would be pushed through, and perhaps the bill would then get kicked into gear.

The veterans who are now dealing with the side effects of exposure by individuals who demonstrated a clear lack of concern for human life do not deserve to bear the burden that the VA should be shouldering. These veterans willingly gave their country the best that they had, and now their country is turning their backs on them.

If you would like to sign the petition and help provide relief for these veterans please visit https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...erans/zLbSTh0g . Please share this petition through your social media outlets so we can work together to make a difference.
Old 08-17-2013, 04:33 PM   #6
This has been going on for quite some time, so, another bit of advice: For a while, read only. Until you know what is going on, don't share personal information, symptoms, etc either on line or with anyone who might contact you with an offer of friendship. Everyone you don't like will be reading and copying anything said on that fb page. You never know who you are actually talking to, on the internet, or what their real agenda is, until you really get to know them.
You may need the services or some advice from an attorney who specializes in toxic waste law up the road, (in fact, this is a good idea, reading everything you can yourself and then getting a professional to simply map out options you may have is in my opinion a good move) but check out who you decide to use VERY carefully for knowledge, experience, and ethics prior to establishing yourself as a client.
Old 08-18-2013, 12:23 PM   #7
I've given a few suggestions here, but haven't really said how I feel. Death and severe illness is a difficult subject, and some people have to edge their way in slowly, and some won't be able to talk about it at all.

You'd think a nurse would have an easier time of it, but it's difficult, especially with people I know (and I feel as if I know many people here even though I've never actually met some of them) to express my feelings sometimes.

Shadi, I grieve that this happened to you. Until you have more information, the full extent of what has happened won't be known, but I am so sorry for what you have been through, for the recent shock of finding out about this, and for the uncertainty and sorrows your future may hold.
I know many of us will find a place in our hearts to hope for you, to cry with you, and to pray for you. I certainly have.
Old 08-19-2013, 04:19 PM   #8
Dennis Hultman
I just noticed this post. I haven't been on that much lately and I'm sorry I missed it.

My thoughts are with you Shadi reading over this. I remember reading something about the story some time ago. With the daily onslaught of what we have done and are doing to our citizens, including our veterans it becomes overwhelming managing the news events. Apathy sets in for many no-matter how hard you try not to let it happen.

It is very important not to forget that there are real people behind each story or event that happens. Sometimes we have a tendency to just say, Yep, that sounds about right or that's our government for you.

You get a good kick in the pants when something effects someone you know.

There are avenues to bring more attention to it and if I can help, let me know.

Monsanto You are absolutely right.

It doesn't matter how many times you tell people about what Monsanto states from their very mouths about cornering the food market, attempting to claim patents on farm animals, attacking local farmers, destroying lives and livelihoods, poisonings, they wright them a pass and still defend them. Stating all the "good" they do.
Old 08-28-2013, 04:27 PM   #9
My sister informed me last night that our cousin was stationed there in 70's and 80's and is battling illness on and off with no firm diagnosis. My sister is contacting his mother today after I told her about this.
Old 09-05-2013, 11:50 AM   #10
Originally Posted by JColt View Post
My sister informed me last night that our cousin was stationed there in 70's and 80's and is battling illness on and off with no firm diagnosis. My sister is contacting his mother today after I told her about this.
Thank you, Joe. There are still thousands who have no idea this happened, and the government is happy to see it remain that way.

If I can be of any help at all, please email me.
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