Cold War Patriots Mobilizes Support to Help Uranium Workers and Downwinders Receive Long-Awaited Government Benefits
Community action required to help pass new RECA expansion legislation up for Congressional review this fall ~
DENVER (September 20, 2023) – Cold War Patriots, the first and largest community resource and advocacy organization dedicated to support nuclear weapons and uranium workers, is again taking the lead to help ensure that people exposed to toxic radiation due to the testing and mining conducted to build up America’s nuclear defense system are receiving the benefits they deserve under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
In response to recently passed legislation in the U.S. Senate that would significantly strengthen the financial and health benefits available through RECA, as well as the number of people eligible for benefits (including Downwinders), Cold War Patriots has created resources and information designed to help build community support for the House/Senate Conference Committee to expeditiously pass the Senate version of the RECA amendment. Under the new amendment, coverage would be expanded to New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana and Guam, and previously excluded areas of Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The bipartisan-supported RECA legislation is part of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act which is scheduled for review by Congress this fall.
As part of its ongoing advocacy work, Cold War Patriots has launched a new online resource hub, coldwarpatriots.org/benefits/
reca/strengthening-reca/. Among other things, it provides relevant news updates regarding the legislative progress of expanding RECA benefits, and links to U.S. Senators and House members so that people know who to reach out to and how to contact them to request their support of the legislation. The site also contains tips for applying for benefits under EEOICPA and RECA and contact information for the Cold War Patriots Outreach Help Center (888-903-8989 or firstname.lastname@example.org), which is designed to help affected workers and Downwinders navigate what can be a somewhat challenging process so they can maximize their benefits.
The journey leading up to the recent bipartisan legislation has been long and difficult with many setbacks along the way, as previous efforts to strengthen benefits and eligibility have failed. However, many community organizations closest to the process have already started expressing optimism that this time may be different since the Senate passed the RECA amendment S.1058 by a 61-37 bipartisan vote at the end of July, adding it as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“This is the closest we’ve ever been to achieving meaningful change,” said Tim Lerew, chairman of Cold War Patriots. “We’ve been down this road before but have never gotten this far. Today, there is cause for renewed hope, as we’re seeing collective support from both sides of the aisle to do right by these dedicated uranium workers, as well as the Downwinders who were unknowingly exposed to radiation as a result of nuclear testing.”
This is not the first time that Cold War Patriots has been on the front lines fighting for change for people exposed to radiation. The organization played a prominent role in advocating Congress to create a National Day of Remembrance (October 30) to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of nuclear weapons and uranium workers. More recently, Cold War Patriots has been an active member of the RECA Working Group which was responsible for helping to secure the passage of the two-year extension of RECA benefits that were originally scheduled to sunset in 2022. Cold War Patriots is the only provider of EEOICPA-sponsored home healthcare to be an active member of the RECA Working Group and has already participated in more than 30 face-to-face meetings with those political leaders with the power to make change possible.
“The time to act is now,” said Lerew. “If you’ve never picked up a pen or your phone previously to contact your Senator or Representative, this is the time to do so. There is great momentum going into the return of Congress from its summer break. Separate versions of RECA expansion legislation have already been presented in both the House and the Senate. The nearly $900 billion Defense Bill, of which the expanded RECA legislation is a part, will receive priority attention by Congress this fall. So it’s important that Congress be aware of the groundswell of support for the expanded RECA legislation as it heads back into session.”
Key pieces of the expansion bill include: increased financial compensation for those who have suffered life-altering diseases (typically cancer) as a result of radiation exposure; extension of the worker eligibility period to 1990; inclusion of additional Downwinders as eligible recipients of RECA compensation and healthcare benefits; and the extension of RECA by 19 more years.
To learn more about what you can do to help persuade Congress to pass the RECA expansion legislation, visit coldwarpatriots.org/benefits/
reca/strengthening-reca/ or call 888-903-8989 .
Cold War Patriots is a division of Professional Case Management, the first enrolled provider of healthcare benefits for nuclear weapons and uranium workers covered under EEOICPA and RECA.