Friends of Civilian Exposure,
This weekend, we pause like many of you to enjoy the Labor Day holiday. Celebrated annually on the first Monday in September, Labor Day, or the “workingman’s holiday,” has become a national tribute to the significant contributions workers make to the strength, prosperity and economic well-being of our nation, including working on military bases and in harm’s way overseas.
We also want to take a moment to remember and recognize all of our service members, as well as the civilian workers, families and citizens that support their efforts to protect this great nation. Not only do we recognize your service, we also understand the generational health catastrophe plaguing so many of you as a result of exposure to poisonous pollution and contamination aboard our U.S. military bases.
Whether it’s exposure to groundwater contamination at Camp Lejeune, ionizing radiation at Enewetak, Agent Orange on Guam, toxic firefighting foams at Pease, or contaminants in Okinawa, we remain committed to the ongoing fight for the care and justice all people impacted so truly deserve.
We must remain focused not only on winning well-deserved benefits for our veterans, but also for their families, their children, and the civilian workforce.
Civilian Exposure is nearing its 4th anniversary. When I founded this non-profit in October of 2013, I did so for one simple reason. My father, a civilian worker who died of exposure, never had a choice. He was never aware of the contamination. My family never received notice of any accountability by any party. Like countless others, we did not see any assistance during my father’s illness, nor upon his loss.
At the start, I believed that the only way to solve this problem was to increase awareness, seek accountability and find a way to get the assistance needed to help others. Over the past 3 years, we’ve ramped up the awareness of this issue in the media. We’ve worked a variety of stakeholders to continue to seek accountability.
Over the past year, we have added new contributing journalists to our roster and advisory board. This has increased our coverage of a broad range of military contamination topics. We’ve also received (and continue to share) hundreds of personal stories from you, the exposed. By sharing them, we seek to empower all of you through giving your unedited and unfiltered stories a collective voice.
We’ve participated in many interviews regarding our mission and what we’re working on. Many of you have shared with us that you are learning about this issue in a meaningful way thanks to the content on our website and within our weekly newsletters. You’ve also shared that, by using information from our website, you’ve been able to succeed in winning your claims with the VA.
On this note, we are both humbled and ecstatic!
But I believe we are only just beginning. I believe that there is much more that we can do. With your outpouring of support over the past year, we’re now poised to take our efforts to a new level.
We will continue to cover this issue across the nation and around the world. We will continue to seek out the evidence, present the facts, and give voice to your personal stories of exposure. We remain undeterred and optimistic. We have reached an inflection point in our growth and I am excited at what the new year will bring in terms of our ability to truly affect an impactful, substantial change for the benefit of all exposed.
If the government won’t step up to the plate and do the right thing, we have to do what we can ourselves until they do. That’s why we’re working hard to find new and innovative ways that will create real assistance where possible. Together, we can help each other as we move toward justice.
We thank you for your service, your stories, your sympathies, and your steadfast and unwavering support.
Gavin P. Smith
Founder/President – Civilian Exposure