This compassionate legislation reversed decades of injustice for these workers who sacrificed so much for our safety and are now paying with their health and, in some cases, their lives.
DENVER (PRWEB) October 23, 2020
Cold War Patriots (CWP), a community resource organization that is the nation’s strongest and most sustained voice advocating for nuclear weapons and uranium worker benefits and has been fighting for members’ rights for over a decade, recognizes the 20th anniversary of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) being signed into law.
The program, which was passed by an historic bi-partisan Congressional vote, was enacted on October 30, 2000, to provide monetary compensation and medical benefits to employees who suffered illnesses due to their service in the nuclear weapons and uranium industries. Three years after the formation of EEOICP, CWP – a division of Professional Case Management – was founded to help thousands of patriots navigate the program.
Prior to the passage of the EEOICPA, workers who filed claims under their state’s workers’ compensations programs for occupational illness due to radiation and other toxic substance exposure were met with roadblocks from Department of Energy (DOE) contractors who didn’t want to compensate them. Evidence to win cases was hard to come by, often shrouded in needlessly classified documents that hid the fact that workers were placed in harm’s way.
“This compassionate legislation reversed decades of injustice for these workers who sacrificed so much for our safety and are now paying with their health and, in some cases, their lives,” says Tim Lerew, CWP Spokesman. “This law is America’s response to acknowledge and address the illnesses caused and contributed to by the work these heroes did – often in secrecy – to ensure the end of the Cold War.”
Early investigative news reports that caught the attention of then-Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson ultimately led to the legislation being drafted. The DOE hosted meetings with workers, their family members, or their survivors around the country about the ultra-hazardous conditions in the nuclear weapons complex.
George Barrie worked at the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, and testified at one of the meetings about an illness he contracted in 1995 that made him unable to work.
“I was convinced that my illness was related to radiation exposure at Rocky Flats, so I filed a state workers compensation claim, but it was denied,” Barrie recalls. “I was scared to speak out at first, but I wanted to help my co-workers.”
Testimony like Barrie’s convinced Secretary Richardson of the need for a federal compensation program, and on April 12, 2000, Richardson announced that the administration intended to seek compensation for the workers. In the following months, workers organized through their union and other local groups to educate legislators about their plight, while lawmakers hammered out the details of the program. President Bill Clinton signed the EEOICPA into law on October 30, 2000. In 2004, access to benefits under EEOICPA was expanded and streamlined with additional legislation designated “Part E.” President George W. Bush signed the Part E Amendment to the EEOICP into law on October 28, 2004.
The program compensates nuclear weapons and uranium workers who become ill due to their work in the nuclear weapons complex up to $400,000 in monetary compensation, plus free health benefits including in-home care.
Barrie says the EEOICP, which has approved over 90,000 cases for financial compensation and medical benefits to date, has changed his life. “The EEOICP has been such a blessing for me,” he reports. “Because it covers medical expenses for my relevant conditions without a co-pay, I am able to keep an eye on my health without facing a financial burden.”
To honor unsung heroes like Barrie, CWP will host the 12th Annual Cold War Patriots Official National Day of Remembrance™ on Friday, October 30, 2020. CWP has hosted the celebration every year since 2009. Register for this year’s virtual event is available at http://www.coldwarpatriots.org/NDR.
The EEOICPA is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and offers monetary compensation and healthcare benefits to workers who participated in the nuclear weapons program from 1942 until the present day and became sick because of radiation exposure or other toxic substances. Learn more at https://www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/.
About Cold War Patriots (CWP)
Cold War Patriots (CWP) is a division of Professional Case Management (PCM), which provides specialized in-home healthcare services to nuclear weapons and uranium workers. CWP is a community resource and advocacy organization and the nation’s strongest and most sustained voice to advocate for worker benefits. CWP helps nuclear weapons and uranium workers get the recognition, compensation and care they have earned. CWP, the first national organization to connect workers with benefits, does this work for free on behalf of its members. Visit http://www.coldwarpatriots.org or call 888-903-8989 for more information.
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Shannon Porter, Cold War Patriots
firstname.lastname@example.org | 888-903-8989