Bill aimed to help Billings veteran’s struggles with VA signed law
A bill named for a Billings veteran suffering from toxic exposure during his service in the 1960s was signed into law by President Trump, U.S. Sen Jon Tester announced Wednesday.
The bipartisan Gary Deloney and John Olsen Toxic Exposure Declassification Act declassifies the records of Project SHAD, the Shipboard Hazard and Defense program, which allows Olsen of Billings and others to access Veterans Affairs disability benefits and care.
Olsen, a Navy veteran, worked on the project testing biological and chemical weapons and was exposed to highly toxic carcinogens. He has fought cancer four times, and the VA had denied his claims because he lacked documentation from the classified project, according to Tester’s office.
The bill was included in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, a $700 billion bill that funds the military. Trump signed the bill Tuesday at the White House.
“It’s taken a long time, but I’m happy that we’ve reached this point. I appreciate Jon Tester’s work to get my records declassified. We’ve finally gotten to the point we should have gotten to 50 years ago. There are a lot of people that will be excited to hear about this,” Olsen said in a statement from Tester’s office.
Gary Deloney, the other veteran named in the bill, served in the Navy in the 1960s and died in 2015. He lived in Kansas, along with Tester’s co-sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Jerry Moran. Endeavor