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Other Toxic Substances & Fort McClellan: Rep. Paul Tonko backs illness probe

June 04, 2011

Tonko backs illness probe

A bill introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, would have the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs investigate the health of soldiers who trained at Fort McClellan in Alabama to see if they were made ill by toxic substances at and around the former Army base.

Tonko introduced the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act to the House of Representatives just before Memorial Day following meetings with local veterans of the base who are suffering serious health problems.

The proposed law would require the VA to create a database of tens of thousands of veterans who served at Fort McClellan between 1935 and 1999 and their health disorders to establish if exposure to toxic chemicals compromised their health. Under the bill's provisions, the VA also would 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 said. "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 Army's Chemical Corps trained on Fort McClellan, and the military used live chemical agents and experimented with Agent Orange on the base, Tonko said, citing widespread reports.

A nearby Monsanto Corp. chemical manufacturing plant discharged tons of PCBs into Anniston's air, soil and water for decades, leading to increased rates of illnesses among its residents, according to the EPA. Monsanto and its spinoff company Solutia have paid more than $1 billion in damages and clean-up costs to residents of Anniston.


Legacy of Our Veterans' Military Exposures
  1. Larry Reply

    was there for MP school in 77. have issues that are unexplainable, rashes, no not rashes, but Night of the living dead immune reactions that leave me leaching fluids from head to toe, requiring Steroid shots, ointments and regiments to qual. only to have as short break and start again. started at 55. doctors/Dermatologist are like ????? Just wondering if like symptoms are out there. all the Ft Mac sysmptom web sites are BS. so looking for any info.

    • LOVME Reply

      So very sorry for delayed response. This is the info we currently have available on our website>>> We will continue to work on the site and post info as it becomes available.

  2. Jason Baker Reply

    Served with the Alabama National Guard after leaving active duty service. We did our training at Ft McClellan. I developed peripheral neuropathy in my feet and DR’s cannot pinpoint a cause. The VA has given me the run around and denied my claims. Does this include those with Guard units who trained there.

    • LOVME Reply

      So sorry for delayed response. I am sorry I do not have any further information.

  3. Greg Wilson Reply

    I went through Basic training and A.I.T. there in 1982. I have looked at a few sites concerning this issue, trying to find out what symptoms the toxins would cause. It all seems very unclear. I had a liver transplant in 2002. The cause was Alpha One Antitrypsin Deficiency.  

    • admin Reply

      Greg where did you take basic training?

  4. Roy Chapman Reply

    I went to Ft Mac in 1981. Basic training only. At 38 started feeling heaviness in my legs to be diagnosed at 42 with PAD. A have a daughter that was conceived in 83 , 2 years after McClellan that has had and does have thyroid issues. I have had both my knees operated on, and recently diagnosed with Gleudius Medius Syndrome stage 2. What can we do about all these health problems?

  5. John Slimak Reply

    In 2006 at the age of 38 I had a heart attack and when the Cardiologist at the ER went into my heart they couldn’t find any clogged arteries nor any cause for the sudden Heart Attack.  I was not using any drugs or any meds that could have caused the attack.  Since the attack I am on monthly pills to maintain the heart condition.  I was station at Fort McClellan in 1986 for basic and advance MP training.  How do I find out more about this issue, I have been trying to find out why I had an attack at such a young age?

  6. Sue Frasier Reply

    There is no "investigation" by Congressman Paul Tonko nor does the new legislation call for one. There is no "agent orange" even covered under the Bill. H.R. 2052 is exclusively for an already identified, 8 part contamination source which is first and foremost resting upon a 1970's AIR DISASTER, caused by nearby Monsanto for PCB's and not agent orange. While I am aware that Tonko's office bungled the press release on the legislation, they have all been confronted on the matter. Press man Bo Duffey was alll of 22 years old at the time and had more responsibility to issue press releases than what he was deserving of. I wrote the actual draft of H.R. 2052 and nobody knows better what the original premise of the legislation was than I do, and I am here to testify that agent orange or anything like it is nowhere covered under the Tonko Bill. End of story.

  7. William Smith Reply

    I attended basic training at Fort McClelland in the summer of 1986.  I am not sick, but have one son with leukemia and one son was born with a clubbed foot.  I was wondering if there are any reports of males passing on potential defects from these exposures.  Also is there any information on exact sites where Soldiers may have been exposed in the 80s?  
    Finally, was the drinking water we used at Fort McClelland in 1986 still tainted with PCBs?
    Thank you for your time 

  8. michael gugliemelli Reply

    I am a forer US Army MP who trained at Ft McClellan 78-79. During the time many of us often wondered what was wrong with others who didnt or coudnt finish training. We were at countless sites throughout the base daily and spent a lot of time on the ground digging, physical training….etc…..Whats kinda ironic is that I am from the same town as Paul Tonko-Amsterdam, New York. 
    This is an answer to many questions about myself over the years of things that happened of which I will not discuss here until I file a claim etc….Unbelieviable how things get shoveled under the rug and no one, no one discloses anything until someone dies or loses children. Well good luck to all of you who have the balls to go after va and expose this more…..looks like were the new victims besides the ones who payed hell in Vietnam…..thank you Uncle Sam….proud to have served or should i asked what the hell you served me in the food at McClellan too?

  9. Gloria Birch Reply

    I have suffered many years in pain . My basic training started in sep 1973 in ft.mcclellan. no one has ever mention this could be the beginning of my problems as of this day. the va has given me a hard time with every claim i have filed. right after i completed basic i went to train but had to get recycled because i got sick , pass out, and got a head concussion. i suffer migraines very badly. no one ever said what could have happen to me in ft mccllelan. the va has only awarded me ten percent since i was discharged for my headaches. each time i have filed for upgrade the va denied. i have a claim pending at the present. but there isn’t anything about ft. mccllelan in my claim. i just found out about ft. mccllelan three days ago. can you please help. my regional va has not been helpful. they have given me such a hard time. i am on the edge of becoming homeless. the va tells me they have a waiting list. i requested my claim to be expedited in may 2011 nothing has happened. i have filed for ptsd because of being raped on active duty. everytime i filed the va has denied it in the pass. claim is still pending . i have had a hard time with the va. i wanted someone to air this story very badly. i feel the va is just waiting for me to die because they do not want to pay any benfits. i have filed the same claim since 1980. will you help??

  10. Carolynn (Cumings) Favreau Reply

    I was stationed at Fort McClellan AL for my basic training. I have been sick my whole adult life and have been fighting with the VA for toxic exposure I received while doing my basic training only to be told "No there was no toxic chemicals at Ft. McClellan. Yeah right now I would like justice for being so sick, suffering from 3 miscarriages and multiple surgeries removing nealy everything I have encluding 100 % of my colon.

  11. Sheridan Collins Reply

    It is interesting that the family members of the dead and poisoned on Kauai were told it was "a time of war" and the class action law suits were dismissed.  Sick employees of University of Hawaii were told they had work related illness and could apply for Workmans Compensation benefits. Monsanto is still at UH with recently published photos of Monsanto handing a giant $100,000 check to the ag department.
    I continue to marvel at the length people will go to further themselves at the expense of others.  As I was getting sicker and sicker with exactly the same weird health problems the vets have suffered, my so called sister and mother (still live in Hawaii) never told me what was going on there.  My so called sister was employed by UH for ten years including during the time UH was fined one of the biggest fines in EPA history for botching the Superfund cleanup and leaving combinations of all the "agents" in a shipping container at the beach for years and years after excavating one gallon and 55 gallon containers from near an irrigation reservoir.  So called sister minimized and dismissed the whole thing as a figment of my immagination. "It's true some people on the ground got ill," she said.  I guess she meant they got dead.  She then stated that she "went up there and talked to some people – everything is fine."  Did she think dead and horribly ill local people would be standing out in the meadows waiting to tell the cute white woman all their business?
    This is a predominantly local mixed racial population living in the Wailua Homesteads. The wells are contaminated with no contaminant identified.  The first native Hawaiian woman I contacted told me she had been sick when her husband returned from Vietnam, then unexplained illness in her family who live behind the Sleeping Giant.  She stated that they lock themselves in a room with the TV for days at a time too ill to do anything.  Sounds so familiar.

    • admin Reply

      Sheridan – I would like to add a section about your experience and exposures. Send me an email at aolegacy@gmail
      Thank you for your comment. The more information we make available the sooner I think we will all find the help we need as well as much needed answers.

  12. Daryl Reply

    Fort McClellan veterans should receive chemical exposure coverage. The DOD/VA left them out of litigation against Monsanto/Solutia in the 1990s.
    PCB's were produced there up to 1975.     Agent Orange was used there for brush clearing up to 1975.     Ionizing radiation was used in testing on Pellam Range up to 1975.

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