As a nation, we are growing smarter about asking the hard questions each time that a vague, new, and potentially hazardous situation emerges in the news. The matters of official concealment that was eventually discovered about the contaminated drinking water supply at Flint, Michigan, was a teaching moment for many of us. Currently we are ensnared in a national virus story that still hasn’t given up all the details it holds about delays and failed concealment attempts that may or may not have played out. But another story was still evolving about a contaminated military base in Alabama, prior to these other news events that the public is now familiar with. The former soldiers who were stationed at the base, are still working to get that story fully told. Meanwhile, the official story line in Alabama remains entrenched in secrecy, denial, and a wall of silence.
Fort McClellan, Alabama was a former, federalized Army base that served as a military school complex. The base was divided into three important organizational sectors spanning its several years of operations. The three main organizations consisted of the former Women’s Army Corps; the Army Chemical Corps School; and the Military Police School. The veterans from the base have compiled an impressive cache of papers over the years that firmly supports their belief that the base was a multiple environmental spill zone, and that the Army worked to conceal it when the toxic sites were active.
Between the 1940s and 1998, when the base was formally closed by the BRAC agency, Fort McClellan endured as many as ten significant environmental spill sites that were sprawled out across four different property locations. These locations were owned or operated by Fort McClellan at the time, and included Pelham Range, the Anniston Army Depot, and the main grounds of the base itself. Newly discovered papers strongly suggest that the former base was used as a remote test location by a former military experiments command which was previously located in Edgewood, Maryland and Fort Detrick, Maryland. The military experiments were conducted both indoors and outdoors at various and often unnamed locations, and the veterans group believes Fort McClellan is one of them. Because many of the tests were done outdoors and involved the use of chemical warfare weapons, both the volunteers and the innocent bystanders on the base as well were likely exposed to toxic open air releases and residual contaminated soil sites.
Not all of the environmental spill sites were allegedly tied to the military chemical weapons tests. One site was a former Monsanto chemical factory in downtown Anniston, Alabama where the soldiers travelled into while using authorized gate passes. Another site was a (TCE) chemical spill at Anniston Army Depot that was caused by the mishandling of runoff detergents that came from the facility into a nearby stream.
One of the more telling documents from Fort McClellan has revealed that the Army hospital had secretly established a cancer tumor health registry for the soldier medical patients at the time, and then never reported it out in any of the coordinated environmental reports that were done by Aberdeen, Maryland in the years thereafter. Nearly 3,000 pages of evidence papers have been compiled by the veterans now to support their claims of toxic exposures from the National Archives, vintage press articles, the Alabama Archives of Anniston Library, the BRAC agency archives on the Fort McClellan closure, and environmental engineering reports from both the military and the Environmental Protection Agency. The hospital records are not a match to the environmental reports. The tumor health registry was kept secret from the rest of the base.
In 2015, the veterans held a series of meetings for over a year with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in Washington DC. Only part of their evidence papers had been compiled at that time. The effort failed and resulted in the VA posting a deliberately false web page on the agency’s website denying there were any toxic exposures to the veterans at Fort McClellan. The web page uses the wrong evidence reports and omits the critical exposure pathways reports that were issued by the environmental site engineers confirming toxic exposures to humans. Critical papers that were created as a result of remedial cleanup projects for toxic sites, are also omitted from the false VA web page.
The veterans group, known as the Toxic Exposure Army Veterans of Fort McClellan, have been working through personal meetings at the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington DC to obtain an authorization letter from them to be sent to the GAO Office to launch a new investigative report on the Fort McClellan matter. “We have asked the Committee to explore the hard legal questions of whether or not there were civil rights violations to our veterans, and whether or not there were breaches of EPA policy law that advises against the mistake of congregating multiple environmental toxic sources to emerge or languish at a single location,” said Sue Frasier who is the main activist for the group. Additionally, the veterans have been working through other meetings at the Washington office of Congressman Paul Tonko (NY) in an effort to have him sponsor three legislation bills in their name to increase their service recognition at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Both efforts are still a work in progress. “We are also talking to Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office from the state of Maryland, and his office does graciously meet with us. This makes it easier for us to share critical, declassified information with the state that they may wish to know about, as we move towards the goals of our remedy plan for the veterans,” said Frasier.
In sharp contradiction to the open doors that have been available to the veterans at these other offices, the authorities in Alabama have been obstinate, difficult, and rude. Senator Doug Jones, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Richard Shelby, and Congressman Mike Rogers have all taken their turns with refusing to even meet with the veterans, or to show any interest in helping their legislative cause. Frasier said, “Numerous outreach attempts have been extended to them and failed”.The veteran’s group has taken the position that Alabama is orchestrating some kind of a concealment plan to not recognize their health conditions, which they say are a genuine outcome of the outdoors field experiments that were secretly done at Fort McClellan.
The three proposed legislative bills that are under consideration by Rep. Tonko, are to create an accelerated review process at the VA for the Fort McClellan service disability claims. The VA has been using a clerical workforce as disability rating reviewers who have no medical or legal academic standards imposed upon them. It was also discovered that the VA has not been using licensed environmental health doctors in the exam reviews for toxic exposure medical patients.
LINKS TO PRESS ARTICLES TO MATCH UP TO THIS NEWS STORY
FOR INTERESTED REPORTERS.
A]. Here is a 2012 article about a direct test volunteer who was in the Maryland battery of tests that were similar to the outdoors version that was conducted at Fort McClellan. Edgewood was masterminding the test series at various other military locations including McClellan Army base. https://www.cnn.com/2012/03/01/health/human-test-subjects/index.html
B]. Here is a 2015 article that also describes the same battery of experiments that were done at the Maryland facility as described in A]. The Fort McClellan Veterans story has to do with outside bystanders who were not direct volunteers in these tests, even though the tests were nearly the exact same as those conducted at the Edgewood base (according to evidence papers). https://www.npr.org/2015/09/05/437555125/veterans-used-in-secret-experimentssue-military-for-answers
C]. This is a 2016 article about another battery of tests that was conducted by Fort Detrick, MD and not by Edgewood. These tests were also duplicated at Fort McClellan, Alabama and have implicated the bystander veterans for a range of years thereafter.
D]. This final LINK will take you into a collection of vintage press articles that firmly establishes Fort McClellan as a former military experiments site for Edgewood and Fort Detrick, MD.
ABOUT THE FORT MCCLELLAN VETERANS NATIONAL PATIENT GROUP:
The medical patient veterans who make up the national stakeholder’s group of Toxic Exposure Army Veterans of Fort McClellan, are from all branches of service. The group was started in 2003 and has been working tirelessly at various points in Washington DC to overcome the process obstacles that are posed to us at the VA agency. Army veteran, Sue Frasier, is the founder of the group and works in meetings across Capitol Hill to advocate for their cause. Most of the veterans have returned back to their home states and don’t live in Alabama. Because of our age group, many of the veterans do not have the necessary computer skills to place them online. Those few who can be found, are organized on our Facebook page and through email chains. Our numbers are far greater offline than what we have located online. The pre-screening effort is accomplished by asking the veterans to review health science papers that are matched to the known toxic sources from Fort McClellan. This is to determine if they are a medical match for VA processing purposes. Most of the veterans are fully diagnosed at this stage of their lives, and many are already getting treated inside the VA Hospital system. Others have not yet been told about the contamination zone and are still getting treated in private care, but without this important medical information made available to them.
Sue Frasier, National Activist (Army 1970)
Toxic Exposure Army Veterans of Fort McClellan
129 Green Street
Albany, New York 12202
Staff for Congressman Tonko’s Office: JEFF MORGAN
Staff for Ranking Minority at Senate Veterans Committee: J.C. HENRY AND BILL VAN SAUN
Staff for Majority Chairman at Senate Veterans Committee: ASHER ALLMAN AND MARK CROWLEY.
INTERESTED NEWS REPORTERS ARE ASKED TO:
1. Please do not develop this story as a personal illness feature story. It does not bring any help to our cause, and the reading audience has no filter about what the health conditions are that would establish the veterans as (likely) toxic exposure cases. Please keep this story focused on the newly discovered matter that Fort McClellan was a military experiment extension of Edgewood, Maryland.
2. Please do NOT use old and prior news stories on our Fort McClellan Veterans matter and merge it in with this new and updated release. Other news reports are known to be holding false information about our cause. They may also be featuring veterans who are NOT a medical match to the known list of environmental toxic sources that are defined for Fort McClellan service. Not all health conditions are covered by this environmental situation. Reporters are cautioned to not approach just any McClellan service veteran for a comment who also happens to have just any medical condition. For VA purposes, we are required to be matched up by health conditions to the toxic sources that are documented at McClellan.
3. Please do not ask us questions about population size. This is a question for the federal agencies and not for a medical patient group. We are not organized to take on the role of the federal agencies.