© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

VA secretary tells Blumenthal he is committed to expanding medical care for K2 veterans

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) holds a copy of the lawsuit.
Molly Ingram
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) holds a copy of the K2 lawsuit.

U.S. veterans stationed at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (K2) in Uzbekistan have been fighting for medical coverage to treat chemical exposure-related illnesses.

In a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) received word that Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough supports that measure.

“I would simply ask you for your commitment that you will support expanding health care to these veterans who were exposed,” Blumenthal said.

“You've got that commitment,” McDonough replied.

Blumenthal, the Stronghold Freedom Foundation, the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and the Yale Veterans Legal Services filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for withholding information about chemical exposure in April.

The lawsuit claims veterans were not told what chemicals they ingested or given treatment to address the exposure.

“There's ample evidence that they were exposed to these toxins, but there is also a tremendous amount of information in the possession of the Department of Defense,” Blumenthal said. “Records that are still classified for reasons I don't understand. And so I've written to Secretary Austin, urging him to declassify those records.”

American troops arrived at K2 weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks and stayed until 2005.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.