SLIDELL, La., Aug. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Military-Veterans Advocacy has filed suit August 1, 2014, in the United States Court of Federal Claims on behalf of former Navy Environmental Health Officer, Lieutenant Commander Celeste Santana who strongly argued against the unrestricted use of open air burn pits in Afghanistan.
Santana was responsible for the environmental health and safety of
American Marine forces at Camp Leatherneck and outlying forward
operating bases (FOBs) in Afghanistan.
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raising concerns about water purity and bottled water storage
procedures, Santana apparently ran afoul of her superiors. Her
subsequent efforts to curb the use of open air burn pits at Camp
Leatherneck and subordinate FOBs led to further ire. She drew criticism
by reporting her concerns to higher authority and for demanding to see
the Commanding General. While on a routine mission to FOB Fiddler's
Green in 2009, she awoke to find that she was being sexually assaulted.
An investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) was
closed due to the "lack of logical leads or suspects." The Camp
Pendleton NCIS office, responsible for the investigation into activities
occurring with the Fiddler's Green unit refused to cooperate with the
Shortly after the sexual assault, LCDR Santana was
relieved of her duties. She was told that she was "uncooperative" and
created a "hostile" environment. She was returned to the United States
where she was immediately relieved of all other duties and it was
suggested she take a psychiatric exam. After receiving an adverse
fitness report, she was not elected for promotion to Commander.
Although she was within three years of retirement, he was not selected
for continuation on active duty - the only officer of her grade and
experience who was not selected. As a result she was forced to leave the
service, two years and eleven months shy of retirement.
Military-Veterans Advocacy Executive Director John B. Wells,
a retired Navy Commander, called Santana a "true hero" who lost her
career while trying to protect the health of the Marines assigned to
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