WASHINGTON, June 3 (UPI) -- A bill proposed in Congress would have the government investigate the health of soldiers trained at Fort McClellan, Ala., from 1935 to1999.
The Fort McClellan Health Registry Act, introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a database of the tens of thousands of veterans who served at Fort McClellan from 1935 to 1999.
The bill calls for Veterans Affairs to provide health exams to veterans of Fort McClellan and educate them on options for care, new research and the consequences of toxic poisoning.
"The veterans who served at Fort McClellan deserve answers -- we must investigate the link between the toxic exposure at the base and significant health problems those veterans are experiencing," Tonko told the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union. "My bill will start the process of tracking health issues with those veterans so we can finally establish a link and get our veterans the care they deserve."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared Fort McClellan a hazardous waste site, and nearby Anniston, Ala., is ranked among the most polluted cities in the country, Tonko said.
Several reports say the Army's Chemical Corps trained on Fort McClellan, and Tonko said the military used live chemical agents and experimented on the base with Agent Orange -- one of several herbicides and defoliants the U.S. military used during the Vietnam War.