Veterans exposed to toxic chemicals at Alabama base: Effort to get Congress to act gaining support

HR-411 to create registry for veterans in commitee

SAN DIEGO - For more than a year, a piece of legislation to create a registry for veterans exposed to toxins at Fort McClellan in Alabama has gone nowhere.

San Diego Army veteran John Holley, who went through the base to be an MP in the 1970s, is tired of waiting.  

"I keep getting these illnesses, one after another after another," he said. "I'm only 54 and no one in my family has any of this."

Holley and thousands of other veterans who passed through Fort McClellan blame their ills on the nearby Monsanto chemical plant which manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used in Vietnam.  

The pollution was so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency shuttered the base in 1999. The legislation for Fort McClellan veterans, HR-411, was introduced in January 2013 but is stuck in committee.  

"I support this legislation," said Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr., who recently signed on as a co-sponsor. "I support it because those who have been impacted deserve clarity and recognition by the VA."

Holley and thousands of others like him wish for the same.  

"How many more medications do I have to take … how many more diseases do I have to accumulate before someone will listen?" he said.

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