National Association of
Atomic Veterans, Inc.
A tax exempt organization
National Association of Atomic Veterans, Inc.
( A Non-profit Veteran’s Assistance Organization )
The NAAV Mission Purpose
NAAV was founded in August, 1979 by the late Orville E. Kelly
( of Burlington, Iowa ) for the purposes of allowing the U. S. Atomic Veteran Community to speak, with a single voice, to their inability to get a fair hearing related to their developing (
radiogenic ) health issues that may have been precipitated by their exposure to “ionizing” radiation while participating in a
nuclear weapon test detonation, or a “post-test” event. From the beginning, and to date, we continue to pursue our purpose to this dedicated cause.
Who is an Atomic Veteran
Atomic Veterans were members of the United States Armed Forces who participated in atmospheric and underwater nuclear
weapons tests from 16 July, 1945 to 30 October 1962. They also include veterans who were assigned to post test duties, such as “ground zero” nuclear warfare maneuvers & exercises,
removing radiation cloud samples from aircraft wing pods, working in close proximity to radiated test animals, de-contamination of aircraft and field test equipment, retrieval
and transport of test instruments & devices, and a host of other duty assignments that provided an opportunity for a radiation exposure & contamination event.
Also included are military personnel who were a part of the Occupation Forces assigned to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan
soon after the detonation of Atomic-Bombs over those respective cities, and those American prisoners of war ( POW’s ) who were housed in close proximity to those cities. These
Veterans fit the VA’s “official” description of an Atomic-Veteran.
There is a second group of veterans who may have been involved in radiation exposure events. These include post test
events related to nuclear weapon devices detonated underground or in shafts ( after 1962 ) that may have provided a radiation exposure event, or those who’s duties involved
regular use of radiation producing equipment or processes, such as power plant technicians aboard nuclear powered Aircraft Carriers and Submarines, X-ray technicians, and those veterans
assigned to the Enewetak Atoll radiation clean-up projects. These veterans fit the VA’s “official” description as
Occupational radiation exposed veterans.
The U. S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program
There were more than one million U.S. Armed Forces personnel, civilian scientists and engineering technicians involved in the
detonation of nuclear & thermonuclear weapon devices, from 16 July 1945 ( the “Trinity” test at Alamogordo, NM. ) to 23
September, 1992 ( the last test in the “Julin” series at the Nevada Test Site ). The United States has sponsored a total of 1,054 nuclear weapons tests, and detonated two of these
weapons over enemy soil during an act of war.
During this period of time there were 1,147 actual nuclear ( aka “bomb” ) tests. Some of these nuclear and thermonuclear
detonations failed to produce any noticeable explosion, either by design, or due to mechanical or electrical faults. Several of these tests, by official definition, were actually multiple
detonations, two or more at the same time, designed for gathering specific data & information or for instrument calibration purposes.
Nuclear Testing and Health
Even since nuclear testing began, it has been very difficult to get a useful accounting of the effects of human exposure to the
radiation particle fallout from these tests. This was largely motivated partly by military secrecy, partly by a desire to allay public fears ( i.e. public relations reasons ), and partly by a fear
of possible legal actions by actual ( or potential ) radiation exposed victims.
Some exposure related incidents have been revealed due to the impossibility of hiding them, namely the high radiation
exposures of the Marshallese and Japanese fisherman after the 1954 Castle “Bravo” disaster in the Marshall Islands. But
most information on this subject has been largely withheld, either deliberately buried in obscure reports, or never collected at all.
This was commonly known as the principle of being careful not to learn what you don’t want to know. However; this
information has slowly come to light, in bits and pieces, over the last 29 years.
What is probably the most important study of the health effects of testing were announced by the National Cancer Institute in
August of 1997, and released in October of that same year. The basic finding of the report is that internal exposures to Radioiodine ( I-131 ) in fallout from continental nuclear
weapons testing was the most serious of all health consequences. Radioiodine concentrates in milk, when consumed by grazing cows, then concentrates in human thyroid
glands after contaminated milk has been ingested into the body.
This concentration effect is especially strong in children. The effect of these exposures is to boost the chance of contracting
thyroid cancer, sometime in the lifetime, of those effected. No efforts were made to systematically study the nationwide effects of atmospheric nuclear weapon testing until Congress
ordered such a study, which was finally released 15 years after the order.
Currently, there are approximately 195,000 Atomic Veterans across America who either do not know their oath-of-secrecy
has been rescinded, and who are not aware of the potential monetary benefits due them for ( service connected ) radiation induced illnesses. The VA is offering them ( no cost ) Ionizing
Radiation Register examinations, including complete blood and urine testing. Additionally, as an Atomic Veteran, they qualify for VA prescription drugs ( for a minor co-pay fee ) which, in
most cases, is a meaningful benefit of itself.
The Directors, Officers and members of NAAV will always salute the memory of those veterans who suffered and died from the
after effects of radiation exposure, in the interest of U.S. National Security, and who’s conditions and suffering were totally ignored by their own Government, their Congressional
leaders and a host of D.O.D. “Contract Consultants”. We hope you will join us in that salute to honor, duty and dedication to serving their country.
Qualifications for NAAV Membership
NAAV offers membership to any veteran who was assigned to
participate in a nuclear device detonation event or who may have been involved in post event assignments associated with the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program from 16 July, 1945
to 23 September, 1992, or any veteran who’s assigned duties included association with nuclear reactors on Aircraft Carriers and Submarines, or the assembly, storage and deployment of
nuclear weapon devices, or who may have been involved with Depleted Uranium ( DU ) munitions events during and after the first Gulf War, or the surviving ( spouse, or child ) of a
deceased Atomic Veteran.
What do Atomic Veterans Want?
I would certainly not presume to speak for all atomic veterans. However; based upon my research, I would like to offer the
following observations. A large portion of these men state, one way or another, that they wish the government would acknowledge, openly, that they were subjected to unusual risk.
Military service is classified as a hazardous occupation, and they all accept that fact, but they are offended by the government’s denials. Some of us would like to see legislation making it a
criminal offense for any government employee or contractor to lie about, or cover up exposures or potential exposures to radiation. A significant number of them feel that the
government should provide them with free medical care for ailments which may possibly have been induced by their exposure to radiation; some feel they should receive monetary
compensation; many others want nothing more than official recognition, by either a public declaration, a certificate, or a medal. Several have suggested that medals have been awarded
to veterans for much less. Atomic veterans, like almost everyone else, are concerned about the world in which their children and grandchildren will have to live. They are concerned
about both the prospect of a horrible nuclear war, as well as the harmful environmental effects of nuclear weapons. Most, however, are pleased to see the United States playing a
significant role in working for worldwide implementation of both nuclear disarmament and a comprehensive test ban. America’s military veterans have, in general, had a great tendency to be
patriotic and supportive of a strong national government. The findings of my study greatly support that proposition. At the same time, however; there is an appreciable degree of cynicism
and disillusionment expressed by America’s Atomic Veterans. National leaders might do well to take notice. Is not the alienation of this potentially most loyal group and supportive
segment of the population a sign to be taken seriously?
From: F. Lincoln Grahlfs (U.S.N. Ret.) former N.A.A.V. Vice-Commander – Madison, WI.
Comments from Dr. Grahlfs book, Voices from Ground Zero, published by the Univ. Press of America, Inc. (1996)
NAAV Operating Funds
The Directors and Officers of NAAV are non-paid volunteers who have devote much of their free time to assisting Atomic
Veterans, and their survivors, in gaining access to those VA benefits they may be entitled to, since 1979.
Given this, we have depended solely upon our annual membership dues and ( good Samaritan ) contributions from
sympathetic & patriotic ( non-member ) individuals and small businesses.
All donations, contributions and / or sponsorships are tax exempt, and are 100% dedicated to assisting Atomic Veterans
in these important areas. Your monetary participation would be most welcome and appreciated. We also welcome Newsletter Sponsorships, as well. For additional information about tax
-exempt contributions, please e-mail your inquiry to: commander.
You can help us ( and honor an Atomic Veteran ) by sending your contributions to:
130 Cleveland St
Lebanon, OR 97355-4505