State Board of Veterans Affairs (SBVA) Vice-Chair Scott Gedling released a statement Friday applauding the Alabama State Legislature for passing HJR 131. The resolution supports establishing a health registry for Fort McClellan Veterans who experienced toxic exposure.
The resolution was drafted by Rep. Kenneth Paschal and sponsored by Rep. Barbara Boyd. The resolution passed with bipartisan support and has been enacted as Alabama Act 2022-250.
“I would like very much to thank our State Legislators for their show of overwhelming support in passing the resolution for a health care registry for Fort McClellan. It was a true sign of support to all Veterans and just one more example of the care and compassion our Legislators have for Veterans,” said Mr. Gedling, a retired U.S. Army Colonel. “The Fort McClellan health registry was in the recent federal ‘Honoring our PACT’ bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. This resolution goes a long way in telling our federal Representatives and Senators how important it is that we don’t forget about the many Veterans who served and were stationed on Fort McClellan. The health registry also goes a long way in helping to determining any associated health risks and conditions that may have been associated with their time there on the installation.”
The Alabama State Legislature’s resolution was prompted by a similar resolution passed by the SBVA in October 2021, which also urged the establishment of a health registry and presumptive service connection for Veterans who served on Fort McClellan.
Fort McClellan has a well-documented history with toxic exposure that potentially dates as far back as post-World War II. A 1998 report of a U.S. Army Environmental Center study noted the presence of dangerous contaminates. The report stated that an investigation and cleanup would be needed prior to transferring Fort McClellan’s property to the public domain. In 2005, the National Academy of Medicine recognized that both the groundwater and soil were contaminated.
Despite these findings, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not acknowledge any adverse health conditions associated with service on Fort McClellan. Military and Veterans who served on Fort McClellan were also excluded from a class-action settlement between the City of Anniston and Monsanto Chemical Plant in 2003.