I recently discovered that while in the U.S. Army, a friend of mine had become a “Nuclear Veteran.” No, he was not at Hiroshima nor Nagasaki. He became a nuclear vet while stationed near Las Vegas, Nevada, at Camp Desert Rock. It was there that over a three month period soldiers were required to experience a nuclear explosion so they would be prepared to attack after someone dropped a bomb. (this experiment was referred to by the military as “Operation Upshot Knothole”) Trenches were dug, the soldiers hid in them while nearby the bomb was exploded – some by cannon, some dropped from the air, and some from towers. During that time there were 11 bombs exploded. Our soldiers experienced a bright light, like that from an arc welder. They were instructed to not look at the light, and to wait until after the shock wave and light had ended. At that time they exited their trenches.
My friend described seeing sheep near the explosions with burned eyes. Some of the government documents describing operation Upshot Knothole mention soldiers too near the explosions, and whose dosimeters registered too high, were required to exit the dangerous area on foot as they ran to awaiting trucks in the safe area.
Obviously, proximity to a nuclear bomb explosion can cause radiation damage to the human body as we learned from the Japanese. And remember that thousands of Americans visited the Japanese sites after the military entered Japan, and walked around the site of the explosion, breathing in all that radioactive dust.
The American government eventually admitted that radiation exposure may have caused these Americans to have health problems. Legislation was passed that created a presumptive list, a list of cancers, that if suffered by a person who was exposed to nuclear testing, or in some cases, working around nuclear materials, the government would presume the cancers came from the radiation exposure. These presumptive cancers are mostly related to breathing or ingesting the radioactive dust. If you or a deceased loved was a nuclear veteran who had one has had one of these cancers, the government can provide you monetary compensation for the illness. If the veteran had other cancers, and his radiation exposure was high enough, he may also be eligible for compensation.
In a recent conversation with the daughter of a veteran who was dying from his exposure, I learned that not only the U.S. government is guilty of subjecting their soldiers to such testing. Most of us remember the testing that was done at Bikini Atoll and other sites in the Pacific. Soldiers from other allied militaries were present for some of those tests. England is making it difficult for their nuclear veterans to claim their compensation, too. This daughter of a victim explained that even the children born to nuclear testing veterans have suffered birth defects.
My address is 1704B Main Street in Marion, web page address is LauterjungLaw.com, and the phone number is 618-997-LLAW (5529). The next column will provide information about pursuing a claim for a nuclear veteran. For copies of any of my past columns, see my website, or access my blog through the website