Update June 27, 2012: In the body of this letter, I stated that I did not want another generic response from the Department of Labor denying my claim. I stated that I wanted my President and my Senator to take action that would help the Cold War Warriors.
All I got was - you guessed it - another generic response from the Department of Labor.
I can only conclude that the individuals for whom I voted really couldn't care less about me or my fellow victims of cancer and bureaucracy. They aren't getting my vote. Certainly the Republicans won't either.
President Barack Obama
Senator Sherrod Brown
Washington, DC 20510
I want to live long enough to vote. Please help me do so.
I have been writing to you since you were elected – even before you moved into your respective offices – in the hope that you would help me and my fellow Cold War Warriors. We have been struggling for compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) . The program is so badly administered that few, if any, who deserve compensation ever receive it. It is a program whose personnel wilfully ignore fundamental medical knowledge, base their dose reconstructions used to deny us compensation on deliberately falsified information, and prefer wasting their taxpayer-funded salaries on coming up with excuses not to compensate us.
Are you really going to just sit back and let this happen?
I voted for you because I thought you cared. I can only imagine whoever reads this letter smirking at my naivete, but I thought you would actually do something that would bring us justice. Instead you allow the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to keep lying to us with their false “dose reconstruction” process. I thought that you would take concrete action to compensate the Cold War Warriors instead of paying lip service and introducing bills you knew would never pass. I thought that, if nothing else, our President would understand our suffering since his own mother died of cancer.
Instead, you have shown me very clearly that you don’t care. I have been applying, sending appeals and writing to each of you for four long years. For four long years, you have done absolutely nothing. I have now reached the point where I understand why protestors in Tunis, Delhi and Badin set themselves on fire and died agonizing, horrific deaths. I understand why a poverty-stricken man in Chicago filled his pockets with rocks and walked into Lake Michigan, never to emerge. I understand why Dmitris Christoulas shot himself in Syntagma Square rather than suffer with the knowledge that working hard and playing by the rules got him nowhere. I understand why the air in the “land of the free” stinks of desperation and despair. It is because no one who is in a position to help will help. It is because political maneuvering is considered more important than people. It is because grandstanding is considered more important than groundwork for fundamental change.
In the cases of the Cold War Warriors, it is because the DEEOICP – the Department of Labor autocrats who, like NIOSH, refuse to admit exposure to radioactive and hazardous materials cause cancer despite overwhelming scientific and medical evidence – considers denying the Cold War Warriors compensation more important than the truth. I have science and evidence to support my case, and all anyone from the DEEOICP ever has to say is “we’re just doing what the law says.” Do we accept that excuse from those who supported segregation, the Tuskegee experiments, World War II internment camps or institutionalizing orphans? We do not, because science and common human decency have led us to redress those injustices. Yet at one time, all of these actions were defended with words like, “we’re just doing what the law says.” Is this really how you want to be remembered - as the people who could have helped but just didn’t bother?
On March 26, 2012, I wrote you about my situation and explained that Ms. Annette Prindle of the DEEOICP Office in Cleveland, Ohio had sent me another generic letter rejecting my claim under the EEOICPA. Her latest excuse is that I did not provide “probative evidence.”
I still want to know why peer-reviewed, scientific studies – enough to fill a three-inch ring binder – which show that even a fraction of the dose DOE’s falsified records show I received is more than enough to have caused my cancer are not considered “probative evidence.” Since when is the truth not considered probative evidence?
This is the truth:
The DEEOICP denies us compensation.
Because they can.
Why can they?
Because no one in Congress or the White House will lift a finger to stop them. This is in spite of activist organizations like the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups (ANWAG), physicians who have treated their Cold War Warrior patients (often watching them die), my fellow Cold War Warriors and me repeatedly calling, writing, submitting evidence and proving our illnesses were caused by our work at Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)/Department Of Energy (DOE) facilities.
In my March 26, 2012 letter to you, I stated:
The DEEOICP has told me that, based on the faulty NIOSH “dose reconstruction” process, they will continue to deny my claim. I have sent you and the DEEOICP multiple scientific research studies proving my claim, but no one will read or respond to them. Think about it: I worked at the Fernald, Ohio site for 11 years, got Stage IIIB breast cancer diagnosed only two months after I was laid off, but NIOSH insists there is a mere 3.95 percent chance I got cancer from my work. The dose reconstruction was based on inaccurate and falsified information; to make matters worse, the same people who performed this dose reconstruction are former DOE contractors who were to blame for the inaccurate and falsified information in the first place. NIOSH is lying to you, to me and to the thousands of other people who have been unfairly rejected.
For example, individuals who worked at the Paducah and Oak Ridge sites and got breast cancer were fully compensated because their sites fall under the Special Exposure Cohort. Do you really expect me to believe that Fernald was less contaminated than Paducah? Are you really saying that these people deserve compensation but I do not?
I was out in the field developing procedures for soil sampling and monitoring as a technical writer and editor; during my last year at the site, I was an Environmental Scientist. Yet the DOL tells me that office workers at Paducah and Oak Ridge who got breast cancer deserve compensation, but an Environmental Scientist at Fernald does not. It is disingenuous and unacceptable.
You did not respond.
President Obama must issue an Executive Order to automatically place everyone who worked at any AEC or DOE facility between 1945 and 2012 into a Special Exposure Cohort so that when they are diagnosed with cancer, they will be compensated. It is obvious to everyone who has ever filed a claim for compensation under the current EEOICPA system that the entire process is a sham.
If this does not happen, then I really have to wonder:
· What is the point of living in a so-called “free” country where my tax dollars fund a program that pays six-figure salaries to civil servants and paper pushers whose sole mission is to invent excuses to deny compensation to Cold War Warriors like me? What is the point of such “freedom?”
· What is the point of voting for officials who say they represent me and then ignore my repeated pleas for help? You have also ignored ANWAG and former DEEOICP staffers who have publicly spoken out about the sham this entire process is.
· What is the point of my continuing to send you letters and studies that prove my case when you can’t even be bothered to read them?
· What is the point of struggling through multiple jobs just to get by, a mountain of bills I can’t pay, and a future filled with nothing but illness, pain and miserable struggle?
In short, what is the point of living? Will my death somehow get your attention where my life could not? After all, a man who voted for Governor Perry in Texas had his death warrant signed by the very man he helped put into office. Is that what you’re going to do to me?
Come Election Day 2012, I’d like to vote. I’d like to vote for you. However, I need a good reason for continuing my existence on a planet where the so-called “leaders of the free world” care nothing for the troubles of their own constituents, where the people who worked hard in the service of their country and thought they would get compensated for their sacrifices only get empty rhetoric, and where the words of medical experts who affirm radiation causes cancer are only met with scorn .
Are you going to finally step up and do the right thing?
If you are, then you need do something concrete. I don’t need rhetoric and empty promises. I don’t need to get more letters from the DEEOICP. I need real action. Now.