In the News

Natalie Dattilio

Two U.S. Senators introduced a bipartisan legislation this week to allow veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances in classified incident to access their military records as they apply for disability benefits and VA health care.

Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Jon Tester are working to pass The Gary Deloney and John Olsen Toxic Exposure Declassification Act.

Veterans who have health conditions that are linked to exposure to toxic substances during their military services are eligible to apply for disability benefits from health care from the VA. However, some missions and projects that resulted in their exposure to the toxic substances remain classified by the Department of Defense, despite having taken place decades ago. The policy prevents veterans from accessing and using their service records to establish their service-connected conditions and securing a disability rating that grants them eligible for care and benefits.

The Gary Deloney and John Olsen Toxic Exposure Declassification Act would call on the Secretary of Defense to declassify the records of experiments or incidents that resulted in troops' exposure to toxic substances that could be used in a veteran's claim for benefits.

Gary Deloney, who served in the Navy from 1962 to 1965, was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and was unable to prove his exposure to Agent Orange, despite evidence. He passed away while waiting to receive a service connection designation from the Department of Veteran Affairs because records of his missions are classified.

Gary Delony, from Fort Scott, passed away while working with Sen. Jerry Moran's staff to access the classified military records that would have proven his exposure to Agent Orange and service-connected illness.

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