Spanberger Statement Ahead of National Atomic Veterans Day

Last Year, the Congresswoman Led the Bipartisan Effort Urging the Recognition of America’s Atomic Veterans — Many of Whom Were Exposed to Harmful Levels of Radiation — after Hearing Directly about the Issue from Virginia Veterans

Today, the White House Proclaimed Saturday as “National Atomic Veterans’ Day”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today recognized America’s Atomic Veterans ahead of National Atomic Veterans Day, which President Joe Biden proclaimed for Saturday, July 16.

Atomic Veterans participated in nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, served with U.S. military forces in or around Hiroshima and Nagasaki before 1946, or were held as prisoners of war in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Due to their exposure to unsafe levels of radiation during their service, many of these Atomic Veterans developed serious health complications. Additionally, as these veterans were sworn to secrecy, many of them were prevented from seeking medical care or disability compensation and were never fully recognized for their sacrifice.

In December 2021, President Biden signed into law Spanberger’s legislation to recognize America’s Atomic Veterans every year.

“Due to the tireless advocacy from Atomic Veterans across our Commonwealth and our country, we are continuing to remember the pivotal role of Atomic Veterans in our nation’s progress and preservation,” said Spanberger. “For decades, after keeping our country safe through dangerous and secret missions, America’s Atomic Veterans were denied the recognition they were undoubtedly owed for their sacrifices. Many of these patriots suffered silently, unable to reveal the extent of their service, account for their exposures, and receive proper medical care. As our grateful nation continues to recognize the brave service of our Atomic Veterans and preserve their legacies, I am humbled by the small role I was able to play in making this annual recognition a reality. There is no doubt in my mind that our country is safer and more free because of the selfless sacrifices of Atomic Veterans during the Cold War.”

Spanberger’s law requires the President to issue a proclamation every year calling on the United States to observe National Atomic Veterans Day. Earlier last year, Spanberger led the introduction of a bipartisan resolution that called on the President to issue a proclamation in observance of National Atomic Veterans Day — which he recognized.

On July 16, 2021, Spanberger spoke alongside Virginia veterans on National Atomic Veterans Day to recognize the critical role Atomic Veterans played in protecting the United States. Spanberger was joined by Central Virginia veterans — as well as representatives from the National Association of Atomic Veterans, the American Legion, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, the Fawn Lake Veterans Group, and the Virginia War Memorial.

BACKGROUND

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated July 16 as “National Atomic Veterans’ Day.” The day was “dedicated to those patriotic Americans who through their participation in these tests helped lead the United States to the forefront of technology in defense of our great Nation and the freedoms we as Americans hold so dear.”

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