Washington June 23, 2020 – Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) today introduced the Military Aviators Cancer Incidence Study Act, a bill directing the military to conduct a study comparing cancer prevalence among military aviators to that of the general population. Reporting by McClatchy suggests that military aviators may be exposed to radiation that places them at higher risk of developing certain cancers.

            “Military aviators take enough risks while serving our country without having to worry about contracting cancer from radiation exposure,” said Feinstein. “The high prevalence of cancer among aviators is deeply concerning, including the cluster of cases at China Lake. We must determine why these aviators are getting cancer and if their jobs are exposing them to dangerous carcinogens. This study will be the first to look across Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps active duty, reservist, National Guard, and veteran aviators’ data to assess the long-term health effects. It is an important step to help us understand what’s happening and how we can better protect our military aviators.”

            “The idea that military aviators could be suffering adverse health effects from their service to our country is alarming and demands further investigation,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would help determine if an outsized population of air crew members is developing illnesses like cancer, and if so, what the cause is and how we can stop it.”

            “ROA supports this bill to study cancer rates for those servicemembers engaged with the military’s flying mission,” said retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Phillips, executive director of the Reserve Organization of America. “Too many of our commissioned and enlisted servicemembers have unexpectedly died at an early age leaving families without their loved one. Senator Feinstein’s bill will lead to better focused health care and development of safer equipment that eliminates cancer causing environments. The services need to do a better job of protecting the servicemembers that protect the nation.”

            In addition to Feinstein and Cornyn, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

            Full text of the bill is available here.

            The bill would do the following:

  • Require the Department of Defense to conduct a study to determine if there is a higher incidence of cancers occurring for military aviators as compared to similar age groups in the general population.
  • If the study determines a higher rate of cancer among military aviators, the department would then have to identify carcinogens associated with military flight operations, environments where aviators might have been exposed to increased radiation and military locations with higher incidences of cancer.

            The Military Aviators Cancer Incidence Study Act is supported by the following organizations: American Veterans (AMVETS), Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN), BurnPits 360, California Communities Against Toxics (CCAT), Cease Fire Campaign, Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service (COAUSPHS), Dixon Center for Military and Veteran Services, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Fleet Reserve Association, HunterSeven Foundation, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Life Aid Resilience Research Initiative, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Military Veterans Advocacy, National Veterans Legal Services Program, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, Stronghold Freedom Foundation, Task Force Dagger Foundation, The Enlisted Association (TREA), The Independence Fund, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), United Soldiers and Sailors of America, Veteran Warriors, Veterans Families for Exposure Awareness (VFEA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vets First, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).