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Safety

Veterans Rebuffed In Weapons Testing Case

by Glenn Hess
August 5, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 31

A federal judge in Oakland, Calif., has ruled that thousands of military personnel who were exposed to chemicals during decades of secret weapons testing by the U.S. are entitled to information about possible health concerns, but they cannot force the government to cover their private medical bills. The decision is a setback to veterans’ organizations that are seeking government-funded health care services outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical system. The decision may also end a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of test subjects in 2009. Claudia Wilken, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said veterans exposed to hazardous chemicals “have not shown that the care is inadequate or that they are unable to address any inadequacies through the [VA] system.” The U.S. tested chemical warfare materials on more than 60,000 consenting military members during World War I and World War II, according to a 2003 government report. In addition, “about 6,720 soldiers took part in experiments involving exposures to 254 different chemicals” between 1950 and 1975, the report says.

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