March 05, 2021

Key Bill Aims to Provide all K2 Veterans Exposed at "Black Goo" Airbase with VA Care & Benefits

Nearly two decades have passed since troops were first deployed to a secret, repurposed Soviet-era airbase in Uzbekistan known as “K2,” where they experienced dangerous levels of radiation and witnessed glowing green ponds and “black goo” oozing up from the ground. On February 25, lawmakers introduced the K2 Veterans Care Act, which seeks to provide a presumption of service-connected illness for the 15,000 veterans who served at the K2 airbase, qualifying them for both VA care and benefits. Documents declassified in 2020 show that the Department of Defense knew that service members were exposed to toxic and hazardous materials at the base that later led to cancer and other health conditions. The base was constructed on top of a former chemical weapons factory and was only recently added to an official toxic exposure registry. Symptoms of this exposure that have been reported range from gastrointestinal illnesses to neurological disorders and rare cancers. Representative Mark Green, an Army veteran and a sponsor of the bill, explained that “the presumption of service connection is the crucial piece of the puzzle to ensure America’s K2 veterans receive healthcare and benefits reflective of their service and sacrifice.”