U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King have introduced legislation that would help Maine veterans with claims made to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contending they have suffered from health problems as a result of being exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during military training at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown. For years, veterans who trained at Gagetown have attempted to gain recognition from the VA that their health problems stem from exposure to Agent Orange, which was previously sprayed there in 1966 and 1967.
The Collins-King bill would direct the VA to establish a registry of U.S. veterans who have served or trained at Gagetown and who have subsequently experienced health problems. The establishment of a registry will provide veterans with a way to make their claims known to the VA and to identify commonalities among their shared experiences. The bill requires the VA to commission an independent study tasked with investigating the linkage between service at Gagetown and the development of health problems and disease associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
"Protecting the health of those who have served our nation is a solemn responsibility, and I have raised this issue directly with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki," said Senator Collins. "Just as the Government of Canada found a way to offer compensation to service members exposed to toxic herbicides at Gagetown, the VA should likewise be able to find a way to recognize the similar concerns voiced by Maine veterans."