In January of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, approved the production of the atomic bomb and in August of that year, the Manhattan Project was established to design and produce an atomic bomb. All of this following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Tim Lerew, from the Cold War Patriots, spoke in front of the crowd attending the Resource fair for The Energy Employees Occupationa Illiness Compensation Act, and he told the crowd that all the vendors were there to serve them because they sacrificed their good health to help their country and that they didn’t go to work to eventually get cancer, pulmonary disease, kidney problems, those, Lerew said, were things that came after.
“We are here to make sure you understand and use The Energy Employees Occupational Illiness Compensation Act and really use the full nature of the benefits that you earned. These vendors have the capability to connect you with the right people to help with your needs. The United States Department of Labor has the responsibility to administer the energy employees compensation act.”
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act is described that since World War II, Federal nuclear activities have been explicitly recognized under Federal law as activities that are ultra-hazardous. Since the inception of nuclear weapons program and for several decades afterwards, a large number of nuclear weapons workers at sites of the Department of Energy and at sites of vendors who supplied the Cold War Effort were put at risk.
Malcolm Nelson, Ombudsman for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program has 40 years of government service Nelson, as the Ombudsman, is to provide information to claimants and potential claimants about the benefits available. He is to make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor regarding the location of resource centers, carry out other such duties as Secretary specifies.
Nelson says, “ We provide information to people who file claims under the Energy compensation program resource centers, and their offices assist people who file a claim. We submit an annual report to Congress and in that report set forth the number and types of claims that people have and we access those claims before Congress. It outlines to Congress the types of problems people are having.
These programs are very important to see people, who unfortunately worked during that time,. they were exposed to radiation and as a result, they are sick. Some people find this very complicated, and that’s why my office is here. We are here to assist you in any way we can, and help you.”
Lerew and the Cold War Patriots, got together and made this Resource fair happen, along with people like Katrina Ruff, the events planner and many others who he said contributed to make it it work. “This is our 4th Resource fair we have had in southern Ohio and this is probably our best so far, we’ve had a good turnout. Resources fairs lately have been very well attended, which shows me there is a continuing need for the information and resources that people in Ohio and elsewhere have earned.
Many even today, don’t realize they have their own act of Congress. The fact is literally a unique act of Congress, that passed in 2000. It’s paid out about a billion dollars in compensation, to workers in the area, but also to hundreds of millions of compensation, to medical providers like SOMC and King’s Daughters. There are survivor benefits all the way down to grandchildren people just don’t know,. The Energy Resource Centers ran by the Department of Labor, take the claims. There are only 11 of those offices in the whole country and you are fortunate to have one right here in your backyard. Our mission is to connect those people with services they have earned from their nuclear work.
At its peak, more than 700,000 men and women usually worked in secret at America’s nuclear defense complex. And many of those are still around.
There were over 20 vendors and organizations set-up for this Resource fair, including the Red Cross, Belton Hearing, Tri-State Rehab, Smith Drugs, Portsmouth Foot Care, Area Agency on Aging, KDMC and SOMC Rehabilitation, OSU Medical and various others.
One such vendor, Melissa Cron-Marketing Representative for Infusion Solutions, she stated that they provide any kind of IV medication at home and if someone has an infection and needs a month of antibiotics, they go to the home, then the profession management people go out and administer them.
Another vendor was Anna Cardonos, from the American Cancer Society, a volunteer for many years. She said that they have the cancer resource center located at the SOMC Cancer Center, “we’re there five days a week,.Monday-Friday. We have wonderful programs- One is the Look and Feel Better, cosmetics and wigs for women, and another called, Reach to Recovery, for ladies with breast cancer. We have ladies who are trained to facilitate that program. They have had breast cancer also.
Some of the people attending this Resource fair, were people like, Robert Flaig, he’s had cancer and asbestosis, blood clots, heart trouble, all showing proof from working at the A-Plant(as locals call it) or The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, he worked there 28 years.He mentioned that he had not really had good help from the government and that is why he was here today. He is part of this case management and has his own case manage, as do most or all who attended this event. He says his case manager has helped him out quite a bit.
Another attendee who worked at the A-plant 25 years, was Linda Smith. She is now in a wheelchair and has COPD from the nuclear exposure.
Diane Bragdon who worked at the A-plant for 6 years, attended, not because she has problems now, but wants to keep aware if problems arise. She is also, a nurse for the profession case management.
Tom Martin with his wife came because he worked at the A-plant for 30 years and has COPD, some kidney issues, and is hard of hearing. They are working on trying to get his hearing approved now.
Also attending the fair was, Larry Adams who worked at the A-plant for 37 years. His main problem from working there, is skin cancer. And has received help from the Act.
Ralph Clifford worked at the A-Plant over 5 years. Ralph has had colon cancer, has COPD and emphzema and he has also been getting help from the Act.
David Scott says he worked at the A-Plant for 28 years and has hearing problems, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
Vendors, Speakers, Workers, that were at this Resource fair had something to tell people, “There is help out there for people who worked with the Nuclear Weapons program in some way.
Reach: Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928