The lasting effects of working with nuclear weapons
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Seventy-five years after the world’s first atomic bombs were dropped in Japan, the people and the island are still feeling the impacts.
Nuclear weapons also have had a lasting effect on American soldiers.
Garry DeFour is a Vermonter who served in the U.S. Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs between 1979 and 1981.
During those few years, he learned about the U.S. Marines who were sent to Nagasaki to help with the clean-up process after the Atomic bomb was dropped.
"Now, thirty-five years later several Veterans that served in Nagasaki -- are inflicted with rare blood diseases and bone-cancer," Atomic Veterans Specialist Garry DeFour said.
He says many soldiers who helped create and test nuclear weapons also became contaminated.
Years later, some started to report severe illnesses, stemming from what they believe was from their time serving in the military.
"We were told for years to keep out mouths shut until President Clinton in 1996 did a proclamation that now Veterans could talk about it to the V.A.," DeFour said.
Vets did talk about it, and some even got compensation from the Government because of the on-going health problems they face.
They're known as Atomic Veterans.
DuFour's been working on a documentary highlighting the soldiers.
He estimates there are still about 28,000 still living.
He believes the U.S. has no need for nuclear weapons and cites a colleague who helped create the hydrogen bomb.
"As Dr. Kenneth Ford told me, he said we have enough conventional weapons, to give a great defense," DeFour said.
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