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Cynthia McKinney on Supporting Our Troops
September 29, 2004


As I watch the increasingly tragic events unfold in Iraq, I am concerned for the health and well-being of our brave men and women in uniform. I'm not only concerned about their survival while in Iraq, but I'm also very concerned about their lives and futures once they home to their families and loved ones. Throughout my tenure in congress, I have dedicated myself to supporting our veterans, active duty troops, and their families. I still do.

Supporting our troops means much more than applauding them for their courage and bravery when they are already in danger. Support for our men and women in uniform also means ensuring that they are only placed in harms way in legitimate defense of America and our allies. It means ensuring that they have the proper equipment, intelligence, and weapons they will need to accomplish their mission. And, it means supporting their families by giving them proper pay and reasonable access to health care when they need it.

While in congress and a member of the House Armed services Committee, I introduced legislation H.R.1587, the Agent Orange Respiratory Cancer Act which passed and is now law. Soldiers who had respiratory cancers from their exposure were being denied their benefits, and that will no longer happen.

I also introduced HR 3155 IH, the Depleted Uranium Munitions Suspension and Study Act, which requires the suspension, sale, development, production, testing, and export of depleted uranium munitions pending the outcome of certain studies on the effects of such weapons.

Many of our troops returning from Iraq are showing signs of depleted uranium exposure and the effects of this exposure range from accelerated cancer rates, lung and respiratory illnesses, to horrible birth defects. Some sick vets were found to be expressing uranium in even their semen. Their intimate partners often complained of a burning sensation during intercourse, followed by their own debilitating illnesses. Monstrous birth defects have been documented in newborn children in Iraq whose parents have been exposed. I fear that the families of our troops may suffer the same horrible fate.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University, is a former army medical expert. He told nuclear scientists in Paris last year that tens of thousands of sick British and American soldiers are now dying from radiation they encountered during Gulf War I. He found that 62 percent of sick vets tested have uranium isotopes in their organs, bones, brains and urine. Laboratories in Switzerland and Finland corroborated his findings.

According to the Veterans Affairs Department, more than 20,000 soldiers have sought care since returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. With thousands more expected to seek benefits and health care, the VA faces its biggest challenge since the early 1990s.

I also believe that supporting our troops means ensuring that our government works to build and maintain good relations and treaties with our allies and the global community. Our troops should not bear the brunt of what should be the world's responsibility. In those critical times when we must send our troops into battle, we must not only arm them with the best equipment and protection available, but we must arm them with strong conviction and belief in their purpose and mission.

Supporting our troops means supporting the causes of justice, fairness, and humanity upon which this nation was founded. We must become a more responsible global leader and one which will lead the world into an era of peace, justice, and prosperity. The policies of the Bush administration pose a clear and present danger to the lives and families of our courageous soldiers.

We can do much better and I look forward to my return to congress where I will continue my efforts to defend America and support American citizens who are called upon to place themselves in harms way.


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