“Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Toxins Act of 2020”
September 15, 2020
For Immediate Release:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced this legislation to provide presumptive service connection for veterans exposed to a wide variety of toxicants and requires preventative care and research. This bill will provide recognition, services, and assistance previously denied to many veterans. Further, this bill recognizes veterans of Uzbekistan for their service.
The “Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Toxins Act of 2020” would require an epidemiological study; provide presumptive service connection for diseases caused by a variety of toxicants found in many locations; and give access to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to studies conducted by the VA and DoD.
The Stronghold Freedom Foundation is grateful for this proposed legislation. Upon passage, this legislation will provide some respite for Karshi-Khanabad Airbase (K2) veterans and greatly benefit many more. Until now, due to the lack of government recognition, K2 veterans were denied the care and benefits earned through their service.
K2 veterans and their families have known for many years the hazards they endured. Recently, the DoD declassified hundreds of documents confirming K2 was toxic and hazardous. Even still, the DoD and VA refuse to recognize K2 veterans and resist calls to fully recognize Uzbekistan as a deployed location in the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) theater of operations.
The Stronghold Freedom Foundation will continue to advocate for full recognition by the government and agencies which placed K2 veterans in harm’s way. K2 veterans will not be fully recognized until Uzbekistan is added to Chapter 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations (38 CFR) §§3.317(c)(1) and 3.317(e)(1)-(2). These sections define the Southwest Asia theater of operations – including Afghanistan – and defines several presumptive conditions, all of which have occurred in K2 veterans.
The Stronghold Freedom Foundation will continue to work with legislators, the DoD, and VA to obtain complete recognition, preventative care, screening, and registry for all K2 veterans.
About Stronghold Freedom Foundation
The Stronghold Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Our mission is to utilize awareness and partnerships to serve those who were exposed to toxic conditions while deployed in the service of our country. We represent over 10,000 Veterans, family members (including Gold Star Families), civilian contractors, and federal employees that were deployed to or worked at Karshi Khanabad Air Base, Uzbekistan (K2) during Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2005). Our Veterans were exposed to multiple forms of toxic chemicals and radiation hazards during their time at K2. We strive to keep the promise made by the government to care for them and their families.