National Association of Atomic Veterans

Points of Contact

  • Keith Kiefer – National Commander 
    • kiefer4ramsey@yahoo.com; (612) 232-6596;
    • Location: Zimmerman, MN
  • Fred Schafer – National Vice Commander
    • derf@trcschafer.com; 541-258-7453
    • Location: Lebanon, OR 

Website: www.naav.com

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NAAV was founded in August 1979 by the late Orville E. Kelly 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. The Atomic Veterans seek no special favor, simply justice.

Successes

  • Through their advocacy efforts, 6 states have dedicated July 16th, the date of the first nuclear weapons test at the Trinity Site in New Mexico, as “Atomic Veterans Day.” 
  • Worked with Rep. Abigail Spanberger in 2019 to introduce H.Res.687, a resolution designating July 16th as “National Atomic Veterans Day.” 
  • After many years of advocacy, NAAV successfully included language in the body of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act to create the Atomic Veterans Service Medal, to recognize the service of atomic veterans.
  • In 2018, passed legislation requiring the Department of Defense, through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, to issue an “Atomic Veteran Service Certificate” to all atomic veterans. NAAV views this as a small step towards full and proper recognition by the US government.  
  • Successfully passed legislation in various states designating Atomic Veterans Memorial Highways. 
  • Built collaborative working relationships with other Atomic Veterans groups, both nationally and internationally, as well as other groups affected by ionizing radiation.

Current projects

  • NAAV is engaged in Congressional and state advocacy on the following issues:
    • Supporting H.R. 3783 and S. 947, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019 
    • Supporting H.R. 1377 and S. 555, the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act of 2019 
    • H.R. 1628, the Enewetak Atoll Cleanup Radiation Study Act. NAAV is supportive of this bill, as long as it does not interfere with passage of H.R. 1377 and S. 555,
    • NAAV is supporting the Marshallese community in their effort to pass S. 2218 and HR 4821, the Covering our FAS Allies Act, which would restore Medicaid access for Compact of Free Association residents in the United States. 
    • Supporting H.Res. 687 (see above). 
    • Creating an Atomic Veterans Service Medal (see above) 
  • NAAV has a structure of state commanders that, among other duties, support NAAV members in applying for and receiving compensation through RECA.  State commanders also build and maintain networks of atomic veterans in their state/s. 
  • Collaborating with AVEN and OBSIVEN – atomic veterans advocacy groups in France, to pursue funding for DNA studies related to the health effects and generational impacts of nuclear testing on atomic veterans and their descendants.
  • NAAV is constantly working to raise awareness nationally about atomic veterans. Some atomic veterans are still unaware that they are no longer sworn to secrecy, and NAAV hopes that raising awareness will help address this. NAAV is also still seeking a visible, publicized national public apology from the U.S. government. 
  • NAAV holds yearly conventions that bring together atomic veterans from around the country. The conventions are an opportunity for atomic veterans to connect with each other, build relationships with partner organizations and communities, and learn about relevant information and developments on the issues they work on. 
  • Working with various organizations to capture the oral histories of atomic veterans. 
  • Raising awareness through speaking events and media
    • Many Atomic Veterans are happy to share their stories through media and  other platforms. Some examples include: 
      • A group of Atomic Veterans in Oregon regularly speak in classes at Oregon State University. 
      • Fred Walden, who was present at Operation Plumbbob, Shot Hood in 1957, has been interviewed in Stars and Stripesand in a video for the New York Times website.

Opportunities for Collaboration

  • NAAV works closely with the Marshallese community, and is organizing “Nuclear Remembrance Day,” an event Feb 28 – March 1st, 2020 in Springdale, AK to raise awareness of the shared nuclear legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. 
  • NAAV has and is interested in working with Downwinders and Uranium miners on legislative advocacy and other work, on a case-by-base basis. 
  • NAAV is open to support from other organizations in their Congressional advocacy, especially with help making connections with important Senate and House offices in DC. 
  • NAAV welcomes additional opportunities to raise awareness of their work through media and speaking opportunities. 
  • Any potential collaboration is discussed internally on a case-by-case basis, and ultimately decided by NAAV’s board.

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