Monday, September 22, 2014

Dr. Benishek Authors Legislation To Research Toxic Exposure for Military Families

Dr. Dan Benishek announces the Toxic Exposure Research Act, H.R. 5484
WASHINGTON, DC:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) today announced he has introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act, H.R. 5484, with Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17) to establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a national center for research into the health conditions experienced by the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances.
“Having had the opportunity to treat our veterans as a doctor at a VA hospital for nearly 20 years, I understand that not all the injuries our returning service members suffer from are immediately evident.  Wounds from exposure to toxic chemicals can have lifelong and generational effects, the impacts of which we are still determining today, “ said Dr. Benishek. “This bipartisan bill will help address the need to better understand the toxins that many of our heroes have been exposed to, and ensure we focus on understanding the effect exposure may have on their descendants.” The Toxic Exposure Research Act will allow the VA to research the effect of exposure to toxic substances on the descendants of our veterans.  Veterans seeking care for symptoms of toxic exposure are frequently misdiagnosed due to a lack of scientific understanding, and the research the VA has conducted on suspected birth defects related to toxic exposure is severely limited. The bill would also create a national outreach campaign on potential long-term health effects of exposure to toxic substances by members of the Armed Forces and their descendants. “The Toxic Exposure Research Act is an important piece of bi-partisan legislation that will help us keep our promise to our veterans.  While we know that our servicemen and women have been exposed to toxic substances while fighting for our country, we also know that many of their children have consequently suffered with various forms of birth defects,” said Congressman Honda. “We need to know the full effects of such toxic exposures. Through the bill’s establishment of a national research center, the VA can determine what effect toxins like Agent Orange have had on the children and grandchildren of our veterans who were exposed. The Toxic Exposure Research act is the House companion to S.2738, identical legislation introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Senator Jerry Moran (KS).  The legislation is supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and AMVETS. Dr. Benishek has been a leader in advocating for reform at the VA since coming to Washington in 2011. Dr. Benishek spent 20 years working as a surgeon at the Iron Mountain VA Hospital.  He is the only member from Michigan on the Veterans Committee and is Chairman of the Health Subcommittee. His "Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act" passed the House unanimously in June.

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