— American Legion DC (@LegioninDC) June 27, 2017
I am glad to cosponsor and support HR 2519! https://t.co/4ElWz79LST
— Tom Emmer (@RepTomEmmer) June 27, 2017
Surprised that Minnesota’s Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer would support a commemorative coin ?
Nah, it’s the least he can do … heck, even Minnesota’s Second District Congressman Jason Lewis signed on to The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (June 27th) … missing Minnesota’s Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen otherwise it would be a clean sweep of the #MNTrumpTrio.
[Fun Fact : Jason Lewis is also a sponsor of H.R.770 – American Innovation $1 Coin Act]
Now, if you think that a commemorative coin isn’t enough to recognize American veterans … well Congressman Emmer also sponsored H.R.2754 – Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act.
“Our veterans are the best our nation has to offer,” said Congressman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). “They dedicate their lives and sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms and liberties, so the least we can do is show them our immense gratitude. Unfortunately, we have since lost many of our Atomic Veterans, but I am honored to work with Congressman McGovern and Senator Markey to ensure these brave soldiers get the recognition they deserve.”
The idea of awarding a medal for radiation-exposed veteran may make Congressman Emmer feel good …. the healthcare of radiation-exposed veterans apparently is not one that he is willing to address.
What these veterans need is H.R. 632 Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act … that bill has been sponsored by five Members for the Minnesota delegation … but not the #MNTrumpTrio.
Worse yet, Congressman Emmer cannot say he is unaware of the medical problems these veterans face … after all, Congressman Emmer awarded a Humanitarian Service Medal to Keith Kiefer.
Keith Kiefer is the Director of the National Association of Atomic Veterans and has worked hard to achieve acknowledgement of the consequences of exposure to the invisible bullets of radiation exposure.
Between March and August of 1978, Kiefer was at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands where the United States was in the process of moving 111,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and scrap parts to a hole that was covered by a concrete dome called the Runit Dome. While Kiefer’s mission papers made it clear to him that they were cleaning up a contaminated zone, he does not recall many safety precautions and warnings from the military. Because of the hot temperatures of this Pacific island climate, many men wore shorts and no shirt. And the yellow suits he saw appeared more like basic chemical suits and nothing that would keep out radiation. The water they drank came out of the lagoon. They ate the local fish and coconuts.
A 2013 study from the U.S. Department of Energy showed the soil around the Runit Dome was more contaminated than what was in the dome itself.
Kiefer now has an autoimmune blood clotting disorder and a thyroid problem.
Kiefer is just one of the thousands of veterans who helped clean up radioactive debris in the Marshall Islands, but have not been able to get health benefits and compensation for their radioactive exposure.
H.R. 632 Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act is the solution (FYI : the bill was originally introduced in 2015 by Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai … a military veteran who sadly has died of pancreatic cancer.)
Congressman Emmer’s cavalier twitter response is pure politics … when the politics we need is for him to sponsor the bipartisan bills that would really help veterans :
HR 299 (289 sponsors including Paulsen) Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017
HR 632 (106 sponsors) Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act
HR 411 (72 sponsors) Veteran Suicide Prevention Act
HR 1206 (64 sponsors) Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act of 2017
HR 1133 (64 sponsors) Veterans Transplant Coverage Act of 2017
HR 1472 (64 sponsors) Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2017
HR 333 (38 sponsors) Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act
HR 1279 (22 sponsors) Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act
When at least 20 Members –in a bipartisan manner– agree that these bills deserve attention, why is Congressman Emmer playing politics by promoting coins and medals … our veterans deserve better.
Congressman Emmer, along with Congressmen Lewis and Paulsen, need to do more than to “show them our immense gratitude”, our veterans need legislative action.
[Note with the exception of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, these bills are not sponsored by Congressmen Lewis or Paulsen … and without Republican leadership pushing these bills, the Democrats are powerless.]