I am a Fort McClellan veteran who has Agent Orange Cancer (CLL), type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, TBI, and a whole host of physical issues that cause me problems. I have had problems with blanking out, which started while I was stationed at Fort McClellan in 1977. That is where I had my first head injury on active duty. I have had episodes of lost time ever since that time. Private doctors as well as VA neurologists in Iowa and Minnesota have examined me and have no clue. So I live with this. How much contaminated water must one consume before you have issues?
Did the government know about Fort McClellan? Yes. Here is a copy of an email sent to me:
Wed 11/15/2006 1:43 PM
Subject: FT McClellen Vets
This article specifically mentions MPs. Didn't know if you were aware of the recall.
FT. MCCLELLAN VETS: Personnel who served at Ft McClellan AL and/or Anniston Army depot prior to 1978 who have health issues, claims, etc that may be related to PCB's, CARC Paint, Solvents, toxic or other chemical exposures are being asked to identify themselves for inclusion in notification lists for future recall of patients plus announcements on the DoD Health Registery. Send current name, service numbers, and other contact info to Dave Abbott, Compensation & Pension Service (21), Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration 810 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20420 Tel: (202) 273-8947. If available include a copy of your DD 214 or a page from your DA Form 20 showing your assignment dates at McClellan. For questions or amplifying information email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. A search at www.google.com for Chemical exposure and FT McClellan and/or www.cma. army.mil/anniston.aspx will bring up some info. Dave Abbot's office is as an extension to VA's Environmental Health Office where the Veterans Disability Commission will be coordinating their efforts on the notification announcements whenever that happens. Women Veterans especially need to come forward if their married names have changed over the years.
Fort McClellan covers over 45,000 acres in eastern Alabama, and was the site of weapons training and the U.S. Army's Chemical Warfare School. Since closure in 1999, the post has undergone numerous environmental investigations for underground storage tanks, groundwater contamination, landfill locations and contents, soil contamination and unexploded ordnance (UXO. The base is the former national home of the Womens Army Corps (WAC), the Army Chemical Corps, and the Army Military Police School. Pelham Range consists of approximately 22,000 acres of land west of the main post, which is located adjacent to Anniston, Alabama. One of the uses of the Pelham Range was as a radiological training area for simulated large area radioactive contamination (fallout) from the surface detonation of a small yield nuclear weapon. The training concept involved the raising and lowering of sealed radioactive sources. Students would then perform ground and aerial surveys to map the fallout pattern. This training occurred from the mid 1950s through May of 1973. The Army used locally fabricated Co-60 sources and higher activity commercially produced Cs-137 sources. A number of leaking locally fabricated Co-60 sources contributed to the formation of the burial mound. The Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Alabama has destroyed nearly 18% of the chemical agent and over 15% of the munitions stored at Anniston Army Depot, including all GB M55 rockets, 8-inch and 155mm projectiles, which represents a 38% reduction in risk to the local community. [Source: VVA Alabama msg 2 Nov 06 ++]
I filed a claim for TBI and the Agent Orange cancer. I was granted 60 percent after 18 months for TBI and scars. My VA claim for cancer was denied. BUT the VA representative told my Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs service officer Bob Stebbens that they would not grant service connection for the cancer as it would open the door to all veterans of Fort McClellan. My cancer claim is still in the appeal process. It has been there for years.
Other Fort McClellan vets need to know. Here is something I also know: many Fort McClellan veterans don't belong to any veterans organization due to the time in which they served, so most will not be aware of this issue. I brought it up at Veterans reunions; most had NO CLUE about the health issues related to Fort McClellan.
Michael J. Nieland
305 E 2nd St
Woodward, IA 50276
Life Member, Post 232, Polk City, Iowa