Shaheen Responds to State Department Announcement of New Task Force Leadership to Address Mysterious Brain Injuries Afflicting U.S. Personnel

March 12, 2021

**Shaheen has stood by these government employees and their families, spearheading legislative efforts to provide them benefits**

**On the TODAY Show, Shaheen responded to the findings of a National Academy of Sciences report on these injuries and underscored the urgent need to take action to address these attacks that have targeted American public servants and their families**

**In the FY21 NDAA that recently became law, Shaheen successfully included language to expand a provision in law that she wrote last year 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 questioned Antony Blinken on this issue during his confirmation hearing in December**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in response to the State Department’s announcement that Ambassador Pamela Spratlen will serve as the Senior Advisor to the Health Incident Response Task Force (HIRTF).  She will report directly to State Department senior leadership. The Health Incidents Response Task Force is responsible for addressing the mysterious brain injuries experienced by federal employees and their families while serving in China and Cuba, generally referred to as ‘Havana Syndrome.’

“I’m very encouraged to see the Biden administration step up where the Trump administration failed or refused to do so, which directly impacted the health and wellness of those targeted by these attacks,” said Shaheen. “For too long, American public servants and their families have suffered from serious health effects without knowing what was being done to identify and address the cause or causes. That’s why I fought to secure them the health benefits they need to get well and why I repeatedly pushed the Trump administration to get to the bottom of these attacks and brief Congress on their progress. I’m glad to see the Biden administration make this a top priority. No stone can be left unturned and I look forward to working with Ambassador Spratlen and the State Department to see this through.”

Senator Shaheen has stood by government employees and their families who’ve suffered from these mysterious injuries, and leads efforts in Congress to provide them critical health benefits. In the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that recently became law, Shaheen successfully included language to expand a provision in law that she wrote last year 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, calling on the administration to interpret the law as intended by Congress.

On the TODAY Show last year, Shaheen responded to the findings of a National Academy of Sciences report on these injuries and underscored the urgent need to take action to address these attacks that have targeted American public servants and their families. Despite Shaheen’s calls for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to address what the Trump administration was doing to uncover the source of these attacks and protect American public servants, Pompeo never appeared. Pompeo also never responded to bipartisan calls in the Senate led by Shaheen to detail how the Trump administration would respond to the findings of the NAS report. Shaheen is a cosponsor of Senator Collins’ legislation that would authorize additional compensation for affected individuals. During Secretary of State Blinken’s confirmation hearing, Shaheen reiterated that uncovering the causation of these attacks and assisting those who’ve been injured must be top priorities for the Biden administration. Just last month, Shaheen spoke with CNN in an exclusive interview on developments to uncover the source of targeted sonic attacks against U.S. personnel and their families.