Shaheen, Collins Urge Blinken to Provide Equal Access to Treatment at Walter Reed for Victims of Directed Energy AttacksSeptember 23, 2021
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last night requesting equal access to Walter Reed treatment facilities for all State victims experiencing symptoms of anomalous health incidents, also known as “Havana Syndrome.” Their letter follows reports that the Department of State has not accommodated requests by some State Department employees to receive treatment for their symptoms at Walter Reed, which is broadly recognized as the center of excellence to treat victims of directed energy attacks. The Senators asked Blinken to investigate why State has refused access to some of its employees and to take action to ensure State employees have equal access to the best treatment options.
“We are particularly concerned that some State Department employees with such symptoms who have been recommended for treatment have been refused access to Walter Reed National Medical Military Care Center by the Department of State, despite their requests to be seen at Walter Reed. We request that you investigate why this happened and undertake efforts to ensure State Department employees and their dependents have the same access to care as AHI victims from the Department of Defense,” the Senators wrote.
“Although not all victims may wish to proceed with treatment at Walter Reed, we believe that equity in access to care must be a foundational principle in responding to the needs of victims. No victim must feel that there is a difference in treatment options as a result of their employing agency,” they concluded. “We see no reason why the State Department and DoD cannot allow for equity for all government employees in access to care at Walter Reed.”
Full text of the letter is available here.
The Senators’ letter comes on the heels of Congress clearing the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, authored by Collins and Shaheen along with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), which would authorize the CIA Director and the Secretary of State to provide injured employees and dependents with additional financial support for brain injuries. Senator Shaheen has stood by government employees and their families who have suffered from these mysterious injuries, and leads efforts in Congress to provide them critical health benefits. In addition, last month Senators Shaheen and Collins introduced bipartisan legislation, the Directed Energy Threat Emergency Response Act, to reform the U.S. government’s investigation and response to suspected directed energy attacks and improve access to care for impacted individuals. Specifically, the bill would require the President to designate a senior national security official to organize a whole-of-government response and direct the heads of relevant agencies to designate senior officials to lead their agency’s response. In May, Senators Collins and Shaheen joined Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in introducing the WIRe Act to ensure wounded officers and their families have immediate access to specialized facilities at Walter Reed Medical Center. In the FY2021 NDAA that became law, Shaheen successfully included language to expand a provision in law that she previously wrote to provide long-term, emergency care benefits to all U.S. Government employees and their dependents who were mysteriously injured while working in China and Cuba. Shaheen’s measure to amend the law followed her letter with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in May 2020 calling on the administration to interpret the law as intended by Congress.
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