Bill would honor veterans of nuclear weapons testing era

May 27, 2017

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey are pushing a bill meant to honor veterans who took part in nuclear weapons testing.

The bill would authorize the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces exposed to ionizing radiation after participating in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.

Supporters say between 1945 and 1962, about 225,000 members of the Armed Forces participated in hundreds of nuclear weapons tests and became known as Atomic Veterans.

The tests put the veterans in hazardous areas and exposed them to radiation as part of their duties. Many suffered from radiation-related diseases and other health issues. They were also sworn to secrecy.

Fellow Massachusetts Democratic Reps. Katherine Clark and Seth Moulton are among the bill’s co-sponsors.