Karshi-Khanabad: Honoring the Heroes of Camp Stronghold Freedom
On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, will hold a hearing to examine how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) are working to address the health concerns of veterans and servicemembers who deployed to Karshi-Khanabad (K2) Air Base in Uzbekistan between 2001 and 2005. Subcommittee Chairman Lynch and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released the following statements:
“This Veterans Day, as we honor our nation’s heroes, my thoughts are with the brave troops who deployed K2 and their families,” said Subcommittee Chairman Lynch. “The courageous Americans who served at K2 were among the first boots on the ground after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Today, many of them face devastating health conditions potentially tied to their service. They are looking for answers—answers our government has denied them for years. Our Subcommittee’s bipartisan investigation revealed clear evidence that K2 veterans were exposed to toxic and environmental hazards. Yet, the VA has refused to provide the full range of treatments and benefits these veterans deserve. I remain committed to advocating on behalf of our K2 heroes and look forward to hearing the VA and DOD’s plans to right this injustice.”
“I commend the leadership of Chairman Lynch and the bipartisan work of the National Security Subcommittee in fighting for justice for our K2 heroes and their families,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “Thanks to their work, servicemembers and veterans who risked their lives defending our nation after 9/11 are finally getting answers about how the hazards they faced may have negatively impacted their health. On Veterans Day and every day, the Oversight and Reform Committee is committed to ensuring the health and well-being of our brave servicemembers, veterans, and their families.”
On January 13, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney and Subcommittee Chairman Lynch sent letters to DOD and VA requesting information about press reports that U.S. servicemembers and special operations forces who deployed to K2 after September 11, 2001, were reportedly exposed to cancer-causing hazards.
On February 27, 2020, the Subcommittee on National Security held a hearing with two veterans who were previously deployed to K2 and have each suffered from cancer, as well as the spouse of another K2 veteran who died from cancer.
That same day, Chairman Lynch and Rep. Mark Green introduced H.R. 5957, the K2 Veterans Toxic Exposure Accountability Act of 2020. The bill, which has 71 cosponsors, directs the Secretary of Defense to assess the toxic exposure of American military servicemembers deployed to K2 from 2001 to 2005 and address the health conditions caused by this exposure.
On March 4, 2020, Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairman Lynch, then-National Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Jody B. Hice, Rep. Green, and former Rep. Mark Meadows sent letters to DOD and VA to press both agencies for information as part of the Committee’s investigation.
On April 22, 2020, VA confirmed it is taking multiple steps to address the concerns of K2 servicemembers and veterans, including designing a new study to investigate health trends.
To date, VA continues to deny that illnesses suffered by K2 veterans are service-connected.