McCaskill Requests Information on Program that Intentionally Exposed 60,000 WWII Servicemen to Mustard Gas

Senator: These men deserve treatment and compensation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today asked the federal government to provide information on compensation to veterans who were subjected to a Department of Defense program that conducted mustard gas experiments on more than 60,000 U.S. servicemen during World War II. A recent National Public Radio report detailed how the Veterans Administration (VA) has repeatedly fought attempts by these veterans to collect compensation for their permanent and often severe injuries.  

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, McCaskill requested a briefing on what steps the VA has taken to appropriately care for and compensate the veterans who participated in these experiments.  

“It’s deeply upsetting to think that we haven’t made every possible effort to identify who these men are and if they’re still suffering from these experiments,” said McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The idea that our government intentionally exposed people to deadly chemicals 70 years ago is appalling—but equally unsettling is the notion that to this very day we’ve made little effort to identify these men and ensure that they’re being properly treated and compensated.”

After the United States government declassified the mustard gas experiments in the early 1990s, new guidance and regulations were issued that were intended to create a process for the victims of these experiments to be compensated. However, according to press reports, in the intervening years, the VA attempted to reach just 610 of the roughly 60,000 servicemen exposed to these experiments, claiming incomplete records prevented additional outreach.

“If these allegations are true, it is extremely troubling that the federal government is shirking its basic duty to provide for those who have served our country in war, especially when these veterans have been subjected to purposeful, immeasurable, and permanent harm by our own military,” McCaskill wrote to Secretary McDonald.

A copy of McCaskill’s letter is available online HERE.