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Speaker Johnson: Bring RECA for a Vote

On May 15 and 16 I spent the day visiting member offices at the U.S. House of Representatives as Secure Families rallied with partner organizations, together with survivors of uranium mining operations and nuclear weapons testing, to encourage Speaker Mike Johnson at (202) 225-2777 to bring the RECA expansion bill, Senate Bill 3853, to the floor for a vote. 

What is RECA?

RECA is the Radioactive Exposure Compensation Act that gives financial compensation to people who were exposed to nuclear explosions during the Trinity nuclear testing, uranium miners, and people who’ve been exposed to nuclear waste that was improperly dumped in waterways around the country. These exposures have led to incredibly high rates of cancer in communities impacted.

While it might not seem like an issue that is important to the military spouse and family community on the surface, it absolutely is. Not only is this an issue of justice, but it is a national security issue. The communities most impacted are Indigenous and rural. These two communities are the source of a large number of military recruits; Native Americans join the military at higher rates than any other demographic and the Uranium mining that was happening on the Navajo reservation was almost exclusively staffed by Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo and other southwestern people. Today every single Navajo code talker has either died of cancer or had cancer. Yet most of those people, the people who not only were instrumental in a World War Two victory but also the people who mined the materials for our nuclear arsenal which turned us into an international superpower, have been abandoned by the government as their bodies are destroyed by various cancers.

As military spouses, how can we look at some of our most lauded veterans, and the people who mined the raw materials that our military is built on, be abandoned and still encourage our spouses to remain in active service? I spoke with veterans who were also uranium miners who have had several forms of cancer. They have had to have double lung transplants, kidney transplants, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, and many more. Entire communities have been decimated and their lives have been lost to the work they did to build our national security.  As spouses, we are watching the government debate medical compensation to these people and we have to wonder, will the government abandon us if our spouses are exposed to something that poisons their bodies as well?

RECA is a critically important issue for our nation and shows the heart of who we are and who we should be. Families deserve dignity in life and proper compensation for the work they did that built the nation we have today. As spouses and family members we know all too well the dangers our loved ones are exposed to from not only bombs but also Agent Orange, burn pits, and nuclear radiation. Will the government abandon our families someday, too?

You Can Help Today

Please call Speaker Mike Johnson at (202) 225-2777 and tell him to bring Senate Bill 3853 to the House floor immediately for a vote.

Here’s an easy script you can use:

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am calling to ask Speaker Johnson to bring Senate Bill 3853 to the floor for a vote.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, known as RECA, is set to expire on June 7th. If RECA is not renewed before then, it will mean an end to life-saving health screenings and compensation for those suffering from exposure to nuclear radiation but also will mean an end to the hopes of thousands of those unfairly excluded from the program for decades.  

As a family member of a servicemember in uniform, I want assurance that the government will care for people who have been exposed to the harmful effects of nuclear arms production. 

I appreciate that the Speaker took time to meet with advocates last week to hear first-hand why Senate Bill 3853 must be brought to the floor and I am kindly requesting the Speaker Johnson use his power to prioritize our communities and bring RECA to the floor for a vote.

Erin Thomas Anhalt is the spouse of a navy veteran and a citizen of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She serves as Co-Chair of SFI’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Team and was recently published in Newsweek.

Learn More About RECA

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