Friends of Civilian Exposure,
Happy Birthday to us! I’m proud to report that Civilian Exposure continues going strong after being formed five years ago this week in 2013. Admittedly, our start was a slow and rocky one for the first couple of years as we continued to develop and refine the mission of what we wanted to achieve for those exposed.
The early days
We’ve evolved quite a bit from where we started. In 2013, I started piecing together the puzzle regarding the link between contamination at Camp Lejeune and my father’s death from acute leukemia in 2008. As a result, I began a journey and a mission to make a difference. Initially, I was honored to be nominated and subsequently selected to join the CDC/ATSDR Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel for 2014-2015.
With access to the very people and agencies that are on-point with this issue, it was certainly an enlightening experience. I heard firsthand in conference calls the utter disdain with which some bureaucrats in DC addressed veterans, families, workers and children exposed to toxic chemicals. I witnessed firsthand the political angling and obfuscation that existed with many of the parties involved. I learned how government agencies interpret and implement policy with what seemed to be a goal not to serve those exposed, but rather to mitigate their financial exposures and risk. Over the years as we’ve heard from hundreds of others around the country and around the world, this approach rings true for many contamination issues across the board.
What I witnessed and experienced just angered me more about the loss of my father. For a while, I was not sure exactly how to make a difference. I did not know how best to apply my media and marketing background and experience in this mammoth undertaking back then. I shared my situation with an entrepreneur at the time. He asked me a simple question that set me on my course. “Maybe you’re angry, but how can you channel that rage into something that creates change?”
That question stuck with me for a while. After a lot of listening and watching, I determined that quantity of available information was not the primary issue. Communicating it to the masses to promote a grassroots push for change was what was really needed. The military certainly wasn’t doing it with the frequency and level that was needed to ensure all learned about the mess. The VA wasn’t communicating enough to ensure that all VA centers were armed with the proper information to address patient concerns. And, while the scientists are outstanding at what they do, they are not experts at finding, reaching and communicating with people.
There is plenty of information that must be shared with the public in a more frequent, more accessible, way. I also quickly realized that this was not just a single base issue, but rather a systemic national problem of military contamination and negligence.
A tiny ripple
Admittedly, I did not know where this effort would lead or what kind of support would come. Regardless, led by the conviction to do the right thing for others, even at my own personal expense, Civilian Exposure was born. Over the years, I have gathered research and sought out a few trusted advisors to help shape the vision. I also sought out others working on this issue, including other journalists, scientists, educators, researchers, and legal professionals. We’ve polled our readers and our subscribers to understand what they want to see out of our efforts.
From the beginning, I’ve sought to build the right foundation in order to adequately serve the mission and those exposed. To do otherwise would be a disservice. After building out the website, growing a robust social media presence and engaging in frequent media outreach, Civilian Exposure started to gain traction. Over time, Civilian Exposure finally gained the attention locally, regionally and nationally. Others began to step forward to volunteer, offer story tips, contribute articles, or to share their own heart wrenching stories of sickness, suffering and loss.
A refined mission and vision for what is possible
The more journalists we can hire or acquire as volunteers, the more research and reporting we can provide on ALL toxic military bases. In turn, the more that we can grow our news operation, the more reach we will have throughout the country. As a result, we’ll be able to raise significant funds that can be fully utilized for direct assistance to families who have suffered.
As I reflect on the past five years, I do so with enormous gratitude for the gift of your continued and ongoing support for the mission of Civilian Exposure.
This, however, is an effort that comes with a cost. Extensive media outreach, marketing and other activities necessary to build massive awareness requires substantial financial support. To be honest, I’ve personally funded most of this effort to date because I see it working daily. I do not regret this, nor do I share this out of some need for attention or praise. It is crystal clear to me now that we face a pivotal point in the growth of Civilian Exposure. That growth will require much more beyond what I have thus far mostly shouldered alone.
Now, more than ever, we need your support.
If you or a person you know wishes to contribute, or the company you work with is interested in sponsoring or partnering with Civilian Exposure, we would love to hear from you. Your tax-deductible donations and funding could make a significant difference in the lives of those affected by contamination at U.S. military bases.
Contact Civilian Exposure today to donate offline, or click on the Donate Today link located on the right side of our website to make a secure online donation processed by our partners at PayPal.
We welcome your support!
Gavin P. Smith
Founder, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief – Civilian Exposure
PS – Remember, here are some key items that you can always find on our website and share with your friends –
1. Information and regular updates on Camp Lejeune Contamination:
2. Highlights of Contamination at Other EPA Superfund Sites: Each week, we showcase information from the EPA about yet another military base population facing health risks from contamination exposure. You can find a complete list of these bases and individual profiles here:
3. Your Shared Stories: We regularly hear from many of you about your stories. Sharing your stories helps us address your needs as best as possible when we speak with the media and other officials. We want to be sure that they hear your stories and understand the significance of this issue and impact on your lives. If you have not already done so, feel free to share yours with us:
4. Congressional Contacts: Use our contact list to reach your representatives about your specific issue.
We’re working hard to bring significant attention to impact of this generational health catastrophe. With your shared stories and support, we will continue to make a difference.