Terlaje seeks justice for veterans affected by Agent Orange, radiation exposure

Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje (D-Yona) on Wednesday urged the Guam Legislature to support three resolutions she introduced addressing the environmental and health impacts of Agent Orange, radiation exposure, and nuclear testing clean-up on veterans and the people of Guam.

“There is no doubt that the people of Guam have been exposed to these various harmful chemicals and toxins like Agent Orange and iodizing radiation as a result of spraying or being in close proximity to nuclear testing,” Terlaje said. “It has been many years now that we have been seeking justice and assistance for those who have suffered from some of the diseases related to these past events. It is time that the United States Congress takes action on the legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to right these wrongs.”

The three resolutions were moved to the third reading file and will be voted on by the Legislature on Thursday.

Resolution 25-34, relative to expressing support for H.R. 809, the Fighting for Orange-Stricken Territories in Eastern Regions (FOSTER) Act, introduced by the Honorable Congressman Dennis Ross, R-Florida, provides presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to Vietnam War-era veterans who served in Guam, and show symptoms of medical conditions currently associated with exposure to Agent Orange in order to receive U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs benefits; and to seeking justice for veterans and civilians exposed to Agent Orange on Guam.

“We know of cases where the Department of Veteran Affairs has acknowledged diseases resulting from the exposure to Agent Orange on Guam and service members have said that they were forced to spray Agent Orange in military facilities on Guam,” Terlaje said.

Rep. Dennis Ross introduced HR 809 on behalf of the veterans who served in Guam.

Resolution 39-34 petitions the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would compensate those suffering from cancer and health issues due to radiation exposure from nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Senate Bill 197 and H.R. 2049 would amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (RECA) to expand the list of eligible downwind areas to include Guam for the nuclear weapons testing conducted by the U.S. government in the Marshall Islands from 1945 through 1962. The passage of these congressional bills would allow those who resided in Guam between 1945 and 1962 and who suffered from cancer or other listed radiation-related illness, to apply for compensation up to $150,000 from the remaining funds in the RECA Trust Fund.