Tester calls for toxic exposure study in veterans bill

Sen. Jon Tester
Sen. Jon Tester | Courtesy of the U.S. Senate
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said Friday that he is sponsoring legislation that would facilitate the analysis and evaluation of toxic chemical exposure and its effects on veterans' families.

The Toxic Exposure Research Act would increase the amount of research into genetic effects of exposure to hazardous and toxic material while in the military and explore how they can be passed down through families.

"Veterans deserve to know more about the long-term impacts chemical exposure will have on their children and grandchildren," Tester said. "This bill takes a step in the right direction to get folks the answers they deserve and to inform the (Veterans Affairs) VA's efforts to treat veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals while serving our nation."

The proposed legislation would require the VA to designate a specific medical center for the research and treat those with history of toxic or otherwise hazardous material exposure. It also would create educational outreach programs on toxic exposure.

"Many Vietnam veterans have already succumbed to these ailments and more will in the future," president of the Vietnam Veterans of America John Rowan said. "While we are concerned, we understand that we raised our right hands and agreed to serve our country in a time of war. Our progeny did not. It is dismaying that it is possibility that these diseases have carried over to our children and grand-children. The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 will hopefully enable us to determine how long these health problems will continue to haunt our families"