A Closer Look at the Toxic Exposure Research Act

We were recently asked by several subscribers to take a closer look at the Toxic Exposure Research Act. Many bills have been introduced from different corners of the country and from different backgrounds and situations to address the myriad of issues that military toxic exposure has created for those who have served or worked on bases around the US and the world.

We have to give credit to the intentions of the Toxic Exposure Research Act. It broadly sets out a framework for helping the children and descendants of those exposed, as well as promotes a broad outreach campaign.

Like other legislation that has been presented (or in some cases passed), this Act unfortunately falls short in several key areas:

 

1. Not all constituencies are addressed: This bill would create a “national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the biological children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of individuals exposed to toxic substances while serving as members of the Armed Forces that are related to such exposure.” What’s missing? Civilian DOD employees and contractors that worked on base. Children of civilian employees or other workers that may have been in schools or daycare during the day on base.

2. Processes, procedures and research outcomes not clearly defined: Who determines who is studied? Who determines who has been exposed or not? How? What are the goals? What is to be done with that research? The only thing this bill states is that they are “for whom the Secretary has made one of the following determinations…”. Does this mean that all exposures have to be come from the VA Secretary or via the VA itself? If so, we already know how this will work out.

3. Authority in the wrong hands: What government agency or authority will be at the helm of this initiative? The VA. What agencies will be involved in determining what information is shared or revealed? “the VA and DOD or such agency head to jointly establish a mechanism for the availability and review of records by the VA.” This leaves it to the DOD, VA or armed services branch to determine what and how information about potential exposure victims is used or processed. Again, we know how this will work out.

4. Outreach is vague, at best: The proposed outreach effort in this bill is lacking in detail, highly limited, inefficient, lacks a defined process with measurable goals, and its management is left in the wrong hands. This is a critical area for improvement. We have watched, for several years, the complete lack of knowledge dissemination that exists for this issue. It is one of the core reasons why Civilian Exposure was launched as a national non-profit news and outreach organization in 2013.  When the government is in charge of informing its own employees/servicemembers regarding its own negligence, it will only seek to mitigate the issue and impact.

First, this bill only requires DOD and VA to come together to “make info available to all members and families”, by “notifying all members”, and “publishing on an internet site” of the DOD and made available to the public. Where do we begin?  How will they make the information available? How will they determine their database for outreach? What methods will they use to reach out to “all members and families”? What frequency will be used for “notifying all members”? Will there be print materials? Audio? Video? Television ads? Direct mail? Email? Phone calls? Billboards? What methods will be used? How will they be paid for? Also, what of this internet site by the DOD? Who determines what content is on it, how it is written, and its accuracy? Who updates it? How often?

Second, this bill instructs the DHHS to work with VA to “implement the national outreach and education campaign” by “making information available to members of the health care profession”, “notifying members of such information”, “publishing info on it’s internet website”. Again, what constitutes the outreach campaign? What’s in it? How is it deployed? To what areas? How is it paid for? How will they reach out to “members of the health care profession”? Which members? Where? Through documents, marketing materials, conferences? How often? For how many years? How will outreach success be measured to know if all members of the health care profession are reached and informed? What information will they be given? Again, who is in charge of the website that is proposed? The content contained? The marketing of these sites to the public?

 

We are all for the intention of this act. We believe there should be a national center for oversight and research, a complete dissemination of information to ALL exposed, and outreach to the national medical community in order to arm those professionals with the knowledge to help ALL exposed around the country. On these intentions, we agree.

However, as you can see, we’re highly concerned about the complete lack of drill-down specificity in this bill. We are also highly concerned with how this bill leaves much to the VA or DOD to determine, including the mechanisms to control and determine the research, information dissemination and overall outreach.

If anything, I’ve learned a valuable lesson in my  experience with Camp Lejeune contamination. Never, ever, leave the details up to a government agency. If you leave a wide berth with little specificity, that agency will take it and run with it, creating their own rules, regulations, bureaucracy and more, only to create a jumbled mess. They will also do the least bit of outreach if a process is not clearly defined.

If you work hard to narrowly define all mechanisms, scope, policy, procedures, outcomes and measurement components, then success will likely follow. With more revisions that adequately resolve the four issues above, the TERA of 2016 might actually be worthwhile. In its current form, however, it falls woefully short.

-GS


The following is a summary of the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015/2016:

Summary: S.901 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)
Introduced in Senate (04/13/2015)

Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015

Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to select a VA medical center to serve as the national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the biological children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of individuals exposed to toxic substances while serving as members of the Armed Forces that are related to such exposure.

Requires: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) or the head of a federal agency to make available to the VA for review records held by DOD, an Armed Force, or that federal agency that might assist the VA in making determinations regarding individuals and descendents afflicted with a health condition as a result of such exposure; (2) the VA and DOD or such agency head to jointly establish a mechanism for the availability and review of records by the VA; and (3) the national center to employ at least one licensed clinical social worker to coordinate access of individuals to appropriate social and health care programs and to handle case management.

Establishes an Advisory Board to oversee and assess the national center and to advise the VA regarding the center’s work.

Directs DOD to declassify documents (other than documents that would materially and immediately threaten national security) related to any known incident in which at least 100 members of the Armed Forces were exposed to a toxic substance that resulted in at least one case of an associated disability.

Directs the VA to conduct a national outreach and education campaign directed toward members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their family members to communicate information on: (1) incidents of exposure of members of the Armed Forces to toxic substances, health conditions resulting from such exposure, and the potential long-term effects; and (2) the national center. Requires DOD and the Department of Health and Human Services to assist the VA in implementing such campaign.


This is the full bill, amended, as of 5/24/2016:

Reported in House (05/24/2016)

[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 1769 Reported in House (RH)]





                                                 Union Calendar No. 460
114th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 1769

                      [Report No. 114-592, Part I]

 To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center 
for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the 
 descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in 
  the Armed Forces that are related to that exposure, to establish an 
   advisory board on such health conditions, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             April 14, 2015

  Mr. Benishek (for himself, Mr. Honda, and Ms. Esty) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' 
  Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a 
 period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for 
consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the 
                          committee concerned

                              May 24, 2016

   Additional sponsors: Mr. Bilirakis, Ms. Pingree, Mr. Conyers, Mr. 
Quigley, Mr. Yoder, Mr. Zeldin, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Latta, Ms. Duckworth, 
Mrs. Bustos, Ms. Kuster, Mr. Israel, Mr. Johnson of Ohio, Mr. Ross, Mr. 
Jolly, Mr. Costello of Pennsylvania, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Cook, Mr. Bishop 
   of Georgia, Mr. Rothfus, Ms. Frankel of Florida, Mr. Crowley, Mr. 
 O'Rourke, Mr. Cicilline, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Katko, Mr. King of New York, 
Mr. Ellison, Ms. Bordallo, Mrs. Lowey, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Sarbanes, Mr. 
Schiff, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. Deutch, Ms. Lee, Mr. Polis, Mr. 
  Collins of New York, Ms. Sinema, Ms. Lofgren, Mr. Perlmutter, Mrs. 
Kirkpatrick, Mr. Langevin, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Kelly of Pennsylvania, Mr. 
 Cohen, Mr. Rush, Miss Rice of New York, Mr. Thompson of Pennsylvania, 
Ms. Gabbard, Mr. Pierluisi, Mr. Larsen of Washington, Mr. Higgins, Mr. 
  LoBiondo, Mr. Michael F. Doyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Cartwright, Mr. 
 Posey, Mr. Neal, Mr. Carney, Ms. Brownley of California, Mr. Rouzer, 
   Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Kind, Mr. Peterson, Mr. Sean Patrick 
 Maloney of New York, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Kilmer, Mr. Walz, Mr. Gallego, 
Mrs. Dingell, Mr. Peters, Mr. Walberg, Ms. McCollum, Mr. Barletta, Mr. 
 Moulton, Mr. Bridenstine, Mr. Boustany, Mr. DeFazio, Mr. Pallone, Ms. 
   Meng, Mr. Jones, Ms. DelBene, Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Fortenberry, Mr. 
Ruppersberger, Mr. Murphy of Florida, Mr. Bishop of Utah, Mr. Cole, Mr. 
Delaney, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Ashford, Mr. Takano, Mr. Lance, Mr. Amodei, 
Mr. Norcross, Mr. Rigell, Mr. Dent, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Levin, Mr. Jenkins 
of West Virginia, Mr. Young of Iowa, Mr. LaMalfa, Mr. Tonko, Ms. Clarke 
    of New York, Mrs. Capps, Mr. Cramer, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Welch, Mr. 
 Butterfield, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Yoho, Mr. Clawson of Florida, 
 Mr. Hanna, Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Thompson of California, Mr. Meehan, Mr. 
    Brady of Pennsylvania, Ms. Edwards, Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Trott, Mr. 
 Frelinghuysen, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Smith of Texas, Mr. 
   Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Mr. Van Hollen, Mrs. Walorski, Mrs. 
Beatty, Mr. Huffman, Mr. Nugent, Ms. Moore, Mr. Hastings, Mr. Stivers, 
  Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Loebsack, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Donovan, Mr. Massie, Ms. 
 Jenkins of Kansas, Ms. Clark of Massachusetts, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Austin 
  Scott of Georgia, Mr. Bishop of Michigan, Mr. Hill, Mr. Beyer, Mr. 
 Nolan, Mrs. Lawrence, Mr. Reed, Mr. Griffith, Mr. Collins of Georgia, 
Mr. Jeffries, Ms. Loretta Sanchez of California, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, 
  Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Ms. Speier, Mr. Pascrell, Mr. Cardenas, Ms. 
 Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Mr. Doggett, Mr. Lowenthal, Mr. 
Sires, Mr. Wenstrup, Mr. Carter of Georgia, Mr. David Scott of Georgia, 
 Mr. Payne, Mr. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Grayson, 
 Ms. DeLauro, Mr. Joyce, Mr. Vela, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Abraham, Mr. Poe 
 of Texas, Mr. Forbes, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Ribble, Mr. Renacci, Mr. Mica, 
Mr. Salmon, Mr. MacArthur, Mr. Luetkemeyer, Ms. McSally, Mr. Brendan F. 
     Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Kildee, Mr. Crenshaw, Mr. Emmer of 
 Minnesota, Mr. Harper, Mr. King of Iowa, Ms. Bonamici, Mr. Hinojosa, 
Mr. Curbelo of Florida, Mr. Fattah, Mr. Blum, Mr. Garrett, Mr. Walden, 
            Mrs. Miller of Michigan, and Mr. Young of Alaska


                              May 24, 2016

   Reported from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs with an amendment
 [Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed 
                               in italic]

                              May 24, 2016

The Committee on Armed Services discharged; committed to the Committee 
 of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
 [For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on April 
                               14, 2015]



_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center 
for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the 
 descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in 
  the Armed Forces that are related to that exposure, to establish an 
   advisory board on such health conditions, and for other purposes.


 


    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Toxic Exposure Research Act of 
2016''.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Armed force.--The term ``Armed Force'' means the United 
        States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard, 
        including the reserve components thereof.
            (2) Descendant.--The term ``descendant'' means, with 
        respect to an individual, the biological child or grandchild of 
        that individual.
            (3) Exposed.--The term ``exposed'' means, with respect to a 
        toxic substance, that an individual came into contact with that 
        toxic substance in a manner that could be hazardous to the 
        health of that individual, that may include if that toxic 
        substance was inhaled, ingested, or touched the skin or eyes.
            (4) Exposure.--The term ``exposure'' means, with respect to 
        a toxic substance, an event during which an individual was 
        exposed to that toxic substance.
            (5) Toxic substance.--The term ``toxic substance'' means 
        any substance determined by the Administrator of the 
        Environmental Protection Agency to be harmful to the 
        environment or hazardous to the health of an individual if 
        inhaled or ingested by or absorbed through the skin of that 
        individual.
            (6) Veteran.--The term ``veteran'' has the meaning given 
        that term in section 101 of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 3. NATIONAL CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON THE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF 
              HEALTH CONDITIONS OF THE DESCENDANTS OF INDIVIDUALS 
              EXPOSED TO TOXIC SUBSTANCES DURING SERVICE IN THE ARMED 
              FORCES THAT ARE RELATED TO SUCH SERVICE.

    (a) National Center.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than one year after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
        shall, in consultation with the Advisory Board established 
        under section 4, select a medical center of the Department of 
        Veterans Affairs to serve as the national center for research 
        on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of 
        descendants of individuals exposed to toxic substances while 
        serving as members of the Armed Forces that are related to such 
        exposure (in this Act referred to as the ``National Center'').
            (2) Criteria for selection.--
                    (A) In general.--The National Center shall be 
                selected under paragraph (1) from among medical centers 
                of the Department with expertise described in 
                subparagraph (B), or that are affiliated with research 
                medical centers or teaching hospitals with such 
                expertise, that seek to be selected under this section.
                    (B) Expertise described.--The expertise described 
                in this subparagraph is--
                            (i) expertise in diagnosing and treating 
                        functional and structural birth defects; or
                            (ii) expertise in caring for individuals 
                        exposed to toxic substances and diagnosing and 
                        treating any health conditions resulting from 
                        such exposure.
                    (C) Preference.--Preference for selection under 
                paragraph (1) shall be given to medical centers of the 
                Department with expertise described in clauses (i) and 
                (ii) of subparagraph (B), or that are affiliated with 
                research medical centers or teaching hospitals with 
                such expertise.
    (b) Research.--
            (1) In general.--The National Center shall conduct research 
        on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of 
        descendants of individuals exposed to toxic substances while 
        serving as members of the Armed Forces that are related to that 
        exposure.
            (2) Studies.--In conducting research under paragraph (1), 
        the National Center shall study individuals, at the election of 
        the individual, for whom the Secretary has made one of the 
        following determinations:
                    (A)(i) The individual is a descendant of an 
                individual who served as a member of the Armed Forces;
                    (ii) such member was exposed to a toxic substance 
                while serving as a member of the Armed Forces; and
                    (iii) such descendant is afflicted with a health 
                condition that is related to the exposure of such 
                member to such toxic substance.
                    (B)(i) The individual was exposed to a toxic 
                substance while serving as a member of the Armed 
                Forces; and
                    (ii) such individual is afflicted with a health 
                condition that is related to the exposure of such 
                individual to such toxic substance.
            (3) Use of records.--
                    (A) In general.--The Secretary of Defense or the 
                head of a Federal agency shall make available to the 
                Secretary of Veterans Affairs for review records held 
                by the Department of Defense, an Armed Force, or that 
                Federal agency, as appropriate, that might assist the 
                Secretary of Veterans Affairs in making the 
                determinations required by paragraph (2).
                    (B) Mechanism.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
                and the Secretary of Defense or the head of the 
                appropriate Federal agency shall jointly establish a 
                mechanism for the availability and review of records by 
                the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under subparagraph 
                (A).
    (c) Social Workers.--The National Center shall employ not less than 
one licensed clinical social worker to coordinate access of individuals 
to appropriate Federal, State, and local social and healthcare programs 
and to handle case management.
    (d) Reimbursement for Necessary Travel and Room and Board.--The 
National Center shall reimburse any individual participating in a study 
pursuant to subsection (b), and any parent, guardian, spouse, or 
sibling who accompanies such individual, for the reasonable cost of--
            (1) travel to the National Center for participation in such 
        study; and
            (2) room and board during the period in which such 
        individual is participating in such study at the National 
        Center.
    (e) Reports.--
            (1) Annual report.--
                    (A) In general.--Not less frequently than annually, 
                the National Center shall submit to Congress and the 
                Advisory Board established under section 4 a report on 
                the functions of the National Center during the year 
                preceding the submittal of the report that includes a 
                summary of the research efforts of the National Center 
                that have been completed during such year and that are 
                ongoing as of the date of the submittal of the report.
                    (B) Upon request.--Upon the request of any 
                organization exempt from taxation under section 
                501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, the 
                National Center shall submit a copy of a report 
                submitted under subparagraph (A) to such organization.
            (2) Quarterly report to advisory board.--Not less 
        frequently than quarterly, the National Center shall submit to 
        the Advisory Board a report on the functions of the National 
        Center during the quarter preceding the submittal of the report 
        that includes the following:
                    (A) A summary of the research efforts of the 
                National Center during such quarter.
                    (B) A description of any determinations made by the 
                National Center pursuant to such research efforts 
                regarding whether health conditions of descendants of 
                individuals exposed to toxic substances while serving 
                as members of the Armed Forces are related to that 
                exposure.

SEC. 4. ADVISORY BOARD.

    (a) Establishment.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
establish an advisory board (in this section referred to as the 
``Advisory Board'') to oversee and assess the National Center 
established under section 3 and to advise the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs with respect to the work of the National Center.
    (b) Membership.--
            (1) Composition.--Not later than 120 days after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, 
        in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human 
        Services, the Director of the National Institute of 
        Environmental Health Sciences, and other heads of Federal 
        agencies as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines 
        appropriate--
                    (A) shall select not less than 13 voting members of 
                the Advisory Board, of whom--
                            (i) not less than three shall be members of 
                        organizations exempt from taxation under 
                        section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code 
                        of 1986;
                            (ii) not less than one shall be--
                                    (I) a descendant of an individual 
                                who was exposed to toxic substances 
                                while serving as a member of the Armed 
                                Forces and the descendant has 
                                manifested a structural or functional 
                                birth defect or a health condition that 
                                is related to the exposure of such 
                                individual to such toxic substance; or
                                    (II) a parent or child of that 
                                descendant;
                            (iii) not less than six shall be health 
                        professionals, scientists, or academics who are 
                        not employees of the Federal Government and 
                        have expertise in--
                                    (I) birth defects;
                                    (II) developmental disabilities;
                                    (III) epigenetics;
                                    (IV) public health;
                                    (V) the science of environmental 
                                exposure or environmental exposure 
                                assessment;
                                    (VI) the science of toxic 
                                substances; or
                                    (VII) medical and research ethics; 
                                and
                            (iv) additional members may be selected 
                        from among social workers and advocates for 
                        veterans or members of the Armed Forces who are 
                        not employees of the Federal Government; and
                    (B) may select nonvoting members from among 
                individuals described in clause (iii) or (iv) of 
                subparagraph (A) who are employees of the Federal 
                Government.
            (2) Chairperson.--The Secretary shall select a Chairperson 
        from among the members of the Advisory Board.
            (3) Terms.--
                    (A) In general.--Each member of the Advisory Board 
                shall serve a term of two or three years as determined 
                by the Secretary.
                    (B) Reappointment.--At the end of the term of a 
                member of the Advisory Board, the Secretary may 
                reselect the member for another term, except that no 
                member may serve more than four consecutive terms.
    (c) Duties.--The Advisory Board shall--
            (1) oversee and assess the work of the National Center;
            (2) not less frequently than quarterly, meet with the 
        director or another representative of the National Center on 
        the work conducted at the National Center, including the 
        research efforts of the National Center;
            (3) review the annual report submitted by the National 
        Center to Congress and the Advisory Board under section 
        3(e)(1); and
            (4) advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on--
                    (A) issues related to the research conducted at the 
                National Center;
                    (B) health conditions of descendants of individuals 
                exposed to toxic substances while serving as members of 
                the Armed Forces that are related to the exposure of 
                such individual to such toxic substance;
                    (C) health care services that are needed by the 
                descendants of individuals exposed to toxic substances 
                while serving as members of the Armed Forces for health 
                conditions that are related to the exposure of such 
                individual to such toxic substance; and
                    (D) any determinations or recommendations that the 
                Advisory Board may have with respect to the feasibility 
                and advisability of the Department providing health 
                care services described in subparagraph (C) to 
                descendants described in such subparagraph, including a 
                description of changes to existing policy.
    (d) Report.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than one year after the 
        establishment of the Advisory Board under subsection (a), and 
        not less frequently than once each year thereafter, the 
        Advisory Board shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of 
        the House of Representatives, and the Secretary of Veterans 
        Affairs a report on the recommendations of the Advisory Board.
            (2) Elements.--Each report submitted under paragraph (1) 
        shall include recommendations for administrative or legislative 
        action, including recommendations for further research by the 
        National Center, with respect to each health condition of a 
        descendant of an individual exposed to a toxic substance while 
        serving as a member of the Armed Forces for which the National 
        Center has made one of the following determinations in 
        conducting research under section 3(b):
                    (A) The health condition is related to the exposure 
                of such individual to such toxic substance.
                    (B) It is unclear whether the health condition is 
                related to the exposure of such individual to such 
                toxic substance.
                    (C) The health condition is not related to the 
                exposure of such individual to such toxic substance.
    (e) Meetings.--The Advisory Board shall meet at the call of the 
Chair, but not less frequently than quarterly.
    (f) Compensation.--The members of the Advisory Board shall serve 
without compensation.
    (g) Expenses.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall determine 
the appropriate expenses of the Advisory Board.
    (h) Personnel.--
            (1) In general.--The Chairperson may, without regard to the 
        civil service laws and regulations, appoint an executive 
        director of the Advisory Board, who shall be a civilian 
        employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and such other 
        personnel as may be necessary to enable the Advisory Board to 
        perform its duties.
            (2) Approval.--The appointment of an executive director 
        under paragraph (1) shall be subject to approval by the 
        Advisory Board.
            (3) Compensation.--The Chairperson may fix the compensation 
        of the executive director and other personnel without regard to 
        the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 
        of title 5, United States Code, except that the rate of pay for 
        the executive director and other personnel may not exceed the 
        rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under 
        section 5316 of such title.

SEC. 5. DECLASSIFICATION REVIEW BY DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OF CERTAIN 
              INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES TO 
              TOXIC SUBSTANCES.

    (a) Review.--The Secretary of Defense shall conduct a 
declassification review to determine what information may be made 
publicly available relating to any known incident in which not less 
than 100 members of the Armed Forces were exposed to a toxic substance 
that resulted in at least one case of a disability that a specialist in 
the field of occupational medicine has determined to be credibly 
associated with that toxic substance.
    (b) Release of Declassified Information.--To the extent 
practicable, and subject to subsection (c) and consistent with national 
security, the Secretary of Defense shall make publicly available 
information declassified following the review required by subsection 
(a).
    (c) Limitation.--Information made publicly available pursuant to 
subsection (b) shall be limited to information necessary for an 
individual who was potentially exposed to a toxic substance to 
determine the following:
            (1) Whether that individual was exposed to that toxic 
        substance.
            (2) The potential severity of the exposure of that 
        individual to that toxic substance.
            (3) Any potential health conditions that may have resulted 
        from exposure to that toxic substance.

SEC. 6. NATIONAL OUTREACH CAMPAIGN ON POTENTIAL LONG-TERM HEALTH 
              EFFECTS OF EXPOSURE TO TOXIC SUBSTANCES BY MEMBERS OF THE 
              ARMED FORCES AND THEIR DESCENDANTS.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall, in 
consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the 
Secretary of Defense, conduct a national outreach and education 
campaign directed toward members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and 
their family members to communicate the following information:
            (1) Information on--
                    (A) incidents of exposure of members of the Armed 
                Forces to toxic substances;
                    (B) health conditions resulting from such exposure; 
                and
                    (C) the potential long-term effects of such 
                exposure on the individuals exposed to those substances 
                and the descendants of those individuals.
            (2) Information on the National Center established under 
        section 3 for individuals eligible to participate in studies 
        conducted at the National Center.
    (b) Department of Veterans Affairs.--In carrying out this section, 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall design and implement the 
national outreach and education campaign conducted under subsection 
(a), including--
            (1) by distributing printed materials containing the 
        information described in subsection (a) to veterans;
            (2) by publishing such information on an Internet website 
        of the Department of Veterans Affairs that is available to the 
        public;
            (3) by presenting such information in person at facilities 
        that serve a large number of veterans or members of the Armed 
        Forces; and
            (4) by educating employees of all medical facilities of the 
        Department with respect to such information and providing such 
        employees with printed materials containing such information.
    (c) Department of Defense.--The Secretary of Defense shall assist 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in implementing the national outreach 
and education campaign conducted under subsection (a)--
            (1) by making the information described in subsection (a) 
        available to all members of the Armed Forces and their 
        families;
            (2) by notifying all members of the Armed Forces of such 
        information; and
            (3) by publishing such information on an Internet website 
        of the Department of Defense that is available to the public.
    (d) Department of Health and Human Services.--The Secretary of 
Health and Human Services shall assist the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs in implementing the national outreach and education campaign 
conducted under subsection (a)--
            (1) by making the information described in subsection (a) 
        available to members of the health care profession;
            (2) by notifying such members of such information; and
            (3) by publishing such information on an Internet website 
        of the Department of Health and Human Services that is 
        available to the public.

SEC. 7. PROHIBITION ON NEW APPROPRIATIONS.

    No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated to carry out 
this Act and this Act shall be carried out using amounts otherwise made 
available for the purposes of this Act.
                                                 Union Calendar No. 460

114th CONGRESS

  2d Session

                               H. R. 1769

                      [Report No. 114-592, Part I]

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

 To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center 
for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the 
 descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in 
  the Armed Forces that are related to that exposure, to establish an 
   advisory board on such health conditions, and for other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

                              May 24, 2016

   Reported from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs with an amendment

                              May 24, 2016

The Committee on Armed Services discharged; committed to the Committee 
 of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

 

 

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Civilian Exposure

Civilian Exposure is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization/public charity working to Build Awareness, Accountability and Assistance for Civilians Exposed to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and all citizens exposed to any toxic contamination aboard all U.S. military installations. The effort continues to inform civilian employees and others affected by contamination to receive both the guidance and the justice they deserve.

About the Founder
A 20-year veteran of media, marketing, non-profits and entrepreneurship, Gavin P. Smith leads Civilian Exposure, a non-profit assisting civilians and veterans exposed to U.S. military contamination; the Keta Foundation, a collaborative foundation dedicated to mitigating modern slavery through economic improvement projects in Africa; and Gavin Consulting, a network of virtual experts serving global clients; He is also a former member of the CDC/ATSDR Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel. Mr. Smith holds a Master of Global Management with distinction (Beta Gamma Sigma) from Thunderbird School of Global Management, an MBA from The College of William & Mary Mason School of Business and a BA in History from Wake Forest University.

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