In late February, Representative Mark Green introduced a bill to the United States House of Representatives that would examine the exposure veterans may have received from toxic substances at Karshi-Khanabad (K2) Air Base in Uzbekistan. The bill, titled K2 Veterans Toxic Exposure Accountability Act of 2020, would assess potential toxic exposure at the K2 base and compile a list of veterans who may have been exposed from Oct. 2001 to Dec. 2005.
If passed, the Toxic Exposure Accountability Act would direct the United States Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the toxic substances at the K2 base and evaluate how they may have affected servicemembers at the base. The bill would also direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to compile a list of those who served at the K2 base.
According to this bill, if a correlation is found between exposure to substances at the K2 base and certain diagnosed illnesses in veterans who served there, it may be presumed that a former servicemember developed an illness as a direct result thereof. This may ultimately increase the likelihood of receiving disability compensation from VA.
Shortly after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, servicemembers were deployed to the K2 base. During the war in Afghanistan, K2 played a key role in medical, supply, and military support. The base remained occupied until 2005. Over the years of deployment, servicemembers may have been exposed to deadly chemicals, including cyanide, nerve agents, and blister agents.
Reports from K2 describe unsafe and potentially radiated water nearby the base. Other reports states that water around the base would illuminate green and that pools of fuel and other substances could be found around K2. Despite these reports, servicemembers were not briefed on potentially hazardous materials present in and around the base.
A government report from 2015 found that at least 61 servicemembers developed cancer after serving at the K2 base. Since that study, hundreds of K2 veterans are self-reporting that they have developed cancer after their active duty service.
Keeping up with new legislation may be overwhelming for some veterans. The K2 bill may have an effect on what benefits you are be eligible for. The experienced attorneys at VetLaw can help you navigate what VA benefits you may qualify for. If you have an inquiry or have been denied VA disability benefits, call an experienced VA-accredited lawyer from our firm today.