The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.
I was an Armorer in the Army and an electrician, 1986-1990. I was in Oahu, Hawaii at Schofield Barracks during the time when the base was an EPA Superfund site. I originally came out of basic training where I suffered pneumonia thanks to Fort “Lost in the Woods” Missouri (Fort Leonard Wood). In March, it is really cold. Anyway, I went to Hawaii and nobody said a word about the water there. Thirty (30) years later, I was still never told! I found out on my own last year, as I had been told when in the service I had hemophilia.
The VA, being the helpful group they are, decided to prove me wrong years later. It never felt right with me. Why did they never say a word? Why, when they knew about the water there, did they (Schofield Barracks) not also make my work environment safe from TCE? We used it to clean small arms at the main armory and when sent back to unit armorers like me. We worked in small rooms and got the pleasure of touching and smelling TCE when working. My office was in the arms room behind a locked gate with no exhaust fan, etc. No one said a word!
Plus, when done at my job, I got to shower in TCE, eat TCE and drink it out of the fountains they provided. I filed less than a year out of service, but got the standard “deny, deny for years” routine. Eventually, in 2008, I got really sick with calcinosis, scleroderma, etc. I’ve been fighting for benefits now for thirty years and I am at 40% for my spine. TCE eats calcium and I saw this on an EPA site where they used calcium to clean up spills, guess what it does in your body? So I filed less than a year out of service as the law requires, and the VA has done everything they can to throw out that timeline. I have lost $1,250,000 dollars of my own money since becoming sick in 2008. So these a——s with TCE are the very people I will be looking for in the afterlife to make sure that they get what they’ve got coming!
Note from the Editor: The author currently lives in Indiana. The views expressed here are solely those of its author. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.