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Congressman Ryan Costello

Representing the 6th District of Pennsylvania

Costello, Walorski introduce bill to aid World War II veterans exposed to chemical weapons

September 23, 2016
In The News

Legislation recently introduced on Wednesday by U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) would ensure that World War II veterans who were exposed to mustard gas receive the assistance they need.

The bipartisan Arla Harrell Act, H.R. 6096, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reconsider cases of veterans who were previously denied benefits for medical conditions arising from secretive chemical weapons tests, including mustard gas.

“Pennsylvania’s World War II veterans proudly and courageously served their country,” Costello said. “This legislation would assist our veterans who were purposely exposed to mustard gas during their time of service by ensuring and accelerating their access to benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. I’m proud to cosponsor this long overdue solution for our nation’s heroes in uniform.”

The VA would be required to report to Congress about service members who were exposed to chemical weapons tests, as well as the status of benefits for those veterans, under the bill.

“It’s bad enough that American service members were exposed to mustard gas by our own military – but the fact that the VA continues to deny them the care and benefits they deserve is unacceptable,” Walorski said. “We have a responsibility to all those who served our nation in uniform, and it’s time we right this wrong and begin to repay the tremendous sacrifice these veterans made.”

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), a cosponsor of the legislation, said that the bill was about correcting an injustice for hundreds of veterans who were denied benefits.

“I’m proud to join Congresswoman Walorski and Congressman Costello in this bipartisan effort, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get this legislation passed,” Rice said.