Army Vets Question Base Contamination In Midst Of Health Issues

Army Vets Question Base Contamination In Midst Of Health Issues

It’s not household knowledge, but in the United States, among military veterans, there are groups coming together trying to figure out whether or not their health problems are caused by past exposure to toxins while in the service.

Marine Corps veterans have a group that revolves around issues at Camp LeJune, and now Army vets who were stationed at Fort Ord in California are asking the same sorts of questions.

For nearly 80 years, soldiers reporting to central California’s Fort Ord considered themselves the lucky ones, privileged to live and work amid sparkling seas, sandy dunes, and sage-covered hills.

But there was an underside, the dirty work of soldiering. Soldiers tossed live grenades into the canyons of “Mortar Alley,” sprayed soapy chemicals on burn pits of scrap metal and solvents, poured toxic substances down drains and into leaky tanks they buried underground.

When it rained, poisons percolated into aquifers from which they drew drinking water.

Through the years, soldiers and civilians who lived at the U.S. Army base didn’t question whether their tap water was safe to drink.

Decades later, the veterans and the people of the surrounding area are finding out that no, the water was not sake to drink.

But in 1990, four years before it began the process of closing as an active military training base, Fort Ord was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the most polluted places in the nation. Included in that pollution were dozens of chemicals, some now known to cause cancer, found in the base’s drinking water and soil.

Decades later, several Fort Ord veterans who were diagnosed with cancers — especially rare blood disorders — took the question to Facebook: Are there more of us?

Soon, the group grew to hundreds of people who had lived or served at Fort Ord and were concerned that their health problems might be tied to the chemicals there.

Could such health issues result from toxic chemical exposure? Of course, they can, but it is very difficult to prove. At least these people have found each other, and can, perhaps, spur some action on not just cleaning up the site, but acknowledgment from the government that this happened.

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