U.S. House Passes Spanberger’s Amendment to Demand VA Investigate Health Impacts of Jet Fuel Exposure on America’s Servicemembers

The Congresswoman’s Legislation was Inspired by William G. Collins, a U.S. Air Force Veteran from Louisa County in Virginia’s Seventh District Living with Parkinson’s

VIDEO: On U.S. House of Representatives Floor, Spanberger Shares Stories of Virginia Veterans with Healthcare Challenges Related to Exposures

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s legislation to investigate the long-term, negative health impacts of jet fuel exposure on America’s servicemembers.

Multiple studies show that long-term exposure to jet fuel among veterans can be a significant factor in developing neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not currently recognize the service connection.

The Spanberger-led amendment passed in the U.S. House today would press the VA to compile additional research on the negative health impacts of jet fuel exposure. With this additional information, lawmakers would be able to take steps to make sure veterans suffering from diseases due to their exposure to jet fuel receive the VA support and benefits they deserve. Her amendment passed today as part of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

Spanberger’s legislation is drawn from her bipartisan William Collins Jet Fuel Exposure Recognition Act, which she introduced last year. Spanberger named the bill in honor of William G. Collins — a U.S. Air Force veteran and Louisa County resident living with Parkinson’s. The VA does not currently recognize Mr. Collins’ condition as having a service connection.

Ahead of the U.S. House’s passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, Spanberger spoke on the House floor to highlight the stories of multiple Virginia veterans — including Mr. Collins — who have had long-term challenges related to exposures during their military service.

Click here to watch her remarks, and a full transcript is below.

My commitment to supporting veterans suffering from toxic exposures has been ironclad since I first met the late Michael Lecik — a father, a husband, a firefighter, and a veteran who died of cancer related to his exposures.

And it continued when I met Gillie Jenkins, an Atomic Veteran from Chesterfield, Virginia who — in his nineties — is still fighting for the recognition of his brothers in arms and the sacrifices that they made.

And today, when I rise in support of my amendment to H.R. 3967, I am doing so inspired by William G. Collins, a veteran from Louisa County, Virginia.

My amendment would require the VA to investigate the long-term health impacts of jet fuel exposures on our country’s servicemembers.

Mr. Collins, a veteran from Louisa County, Virginia, is living with Parkinson’s. And as a former Air Force crew fire chief, his years of constant exposure to jet fuel put him at risk.

But now, the VA does not recognize Mr. Collins’ condition as having a service connection.

Mr. Collins served honorably — and he should know that his country has his back. This amendment would bring us one step closer to ensuring that veterans like William have the healthcare benefits they deserve and the acknowledgement of their sacrifice.

Mr. Collins says, “This disease has impacted my health, my economic security, and potentially my wife and I’s dream of spending our last years on our beloved farm where we raised our family.”

Today, I urge my colleagues to support this long overdue amendment as we support all of our nation’s veterans.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger’s legislation builds on her efforts to seek justice and recognition for Virginia veterans suffering from diseases related to toxic exposure.

Last year, she reintroduced her bipartisan bill — the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act — to provide veteran firefighters with the fair compensation, healthcare, and retirement benefits they’ve earned through their service.

The bipartisan legislation is named after Powhatan County, Virginia resident Michael Lecik, a former U.S. Air Force firefighter who was twice deployed to the Middle East. Following his military service, Lecik became a civilian firefighter and then became chief fire inspector at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee. Lecik passed away in March of last year. In May 2021, Spanberger honored his life on the floor of the U.S. House.

And in December 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law Spanberger’s legislation to recognize America’s Atomic Veterans as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

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.

Spanberger’s legislation 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 Central 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.

###

Recent Posts


May 24, 2024
Veterans' Issues

Spanberger Statement Ahead of Memorial Day 2024

Congresswoman: “We Remember the Americans Who Set Forth in Service, Those Who Felt a Calling to Defend Our Core American Values, and Those Who Laid Down Their Lives to Protect Our Freedoms” WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement ahead of Memorial Day 2024. “Memorial Day reminds us of the often-steep […]



May 23, 2024
Agriculture

Spanberger Statement on Status of Farm Bill Negotiations

The Congresswoman is the Only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement on the status of Farm Bill negotiations ahead of a U.S. House Agriculture Committee markup on the House GOP’s initial Farm Bill. “As the only Virginian on the House Agriculture Committee, I […]



May 22, 2024
Local Issues

On Floor of U.S. House, Spanberger Shares “Stories of Service” from Virginians, Honors Servicemembers, Veterans, & Military Families During Military Appreciation Month

For the Second Year in a Row, the Congresswoman Shared “Stories of Service” She Received from Virginians to Honor the Personal Sacrifices of Those Who Put on the Uniform WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today honored Veterans, servicemembers, and Virginia military families. To recognize […]