If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time living and working in Neihart, its that no matter what the challenge, we can do the right thing. When I needed a ride to the hospital, all I had to do was call a neighbor. When my elderly neighbor found herself without wood for the winter, cutting a few cords for her was the least I could do. It’s the Montana way.
It’s one thing to give a neighbor a ride, or help with firewood, and another to take on a problem that was started some 70 years ago, and will take an act of congress to remedy.
All around us, friends and family are suffering from, and dying of cancer. For many we can only guess what caused it, but for people who lived in Montana in the 1950s, it is known that fallout from above-ground nuclear weapons testing done at the Nevada Test Site caused many cancers.
Most Montana cancer sufferers and survivors probably don’t even know their cancers were caused by our nation’s nuclear testing. These people deserve compensation for the harms the U.S. government caused to them and their loved ones.
Montana is one of the most impacted “downwind” states. Research from the National Cancer Institute has shown that Meagher County is the most exposed county in the United States, and that Montana is home to 15 of the 25 highest exposed counties in the country, including Broadwater, Beaverhead, Jefferson, and many more. Despite this history of exposure, Montana is not currently included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). RECA was sponsored by Senator Orin Hatch (R. UT) in 1990 to compensate those on the frontlines of our national security; people hurt by the production and testing of nuclear weapons. But that law did not include all the people who were affected, and in fact, did not include Montana at all.
This year, the US government is poised to take responsibility and extend compensation to all eligible Montanans. Two bills being considered (S.2790 and H.R. 5338) would amend RECA to add Montana as an eligible "downwind" state.
Co-sponsoring these bills would show that our Members of Congress (MoC) are making the government do the right thing by us. So far, Sen. Tester has cosponsored, but Sen. Daines and Rep. Rosendale have not.
You can call or write your MoC and simply ask them to co-sponsor the bills, and vote for them. It will help our neighbors to get the compensation and care they deserve, while holding our government accountable.