Military bases across the nation are hiding a secret deep beneath the ground. It has made countless of Military, Veterans and their families sick, some with terminal illnesses.
Many of these bases were closed, some with renovations partially completed and much needed base housing left incomplete. The culprit was contaminated water. A problem that the US Military was made aware of in the 1970s.
It wasn’t until recently that these problems were brought to light. These problems have existed for years and the sad part is the DoD and our government leaders have known about them. We are lead to believe that AFFF foam, used to suppress fires, is the only culprit. They fail to mention the leaking fuel tanks that allow diesel and jet fuel to seep into the ground water. There is no mention of the ammunition that was buried underground or all of the chemicals that have left the ground water full of contaminates like chromium, magnesium and benzine and others.
In 1991 I was a proud Navy Wife. We lived in base housing on NAS Alameda. We all had American Flags flying, wore shirts that displayed the Navy emblem. We had cookouts and watched our kids play in the playgrounds.
When the carrier left for deployment we stood on the pier with tear stained cheeks as we watched our service member disappear into the horizon. When it arrived back following deployment we stood there waving flags, holding signs and listening to the Navy Band play patriotic songs. We stared off into that same horizon looking for that massive carrier as she headed home, bringing our loved ones with her. We were proud. We were happy.
We had no idea at the time that the water coming from our taps was making us sick or killing us. As a Navy Community, like other military communities, those of us left behind become a family. During one six month deployment five of my friends, other Navy wives, developed breast cancer. We didn’t really think about the odds that five women between the ages of 25 - 32 would all get breast cancer. We just made dinners for them. Cried with them and watched their children as they went through treatment.
I like other Navy wives experienced a miscarriage. Most of the time we had to rely on our friends when this happened because the ship was out to sea. Tears cried alone.
On two occasions I held my youngest son in my arms praying he wouldn’t die before I got him to the Naval Hospital in Oakland. He suddenly developed asthma that came out of nowhere and was so severe that it was closing up his airway. He wasn’t the only child that had it. Most of the moms carried an inhaler in our purse or bag.
At no time did I even consider the water I was drinking was causing all of this. The water I made coffee, tea and kool aid with. The water I used to cook with and wash our dishes and clothes. The water I filled up the bathtub with so I could give my kids a bath. It never crossed my mind it was toxic. Not once.
Last year I got what I believed was a cold. After numerous test and a very persistent doctor who wanted answers I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. How does a healthy paramedic that worked almost 100 hours a week end up with an autoimmune disease? No one was sure. We did not even know the extent of my illness for months.
In January of 2020 I had a pulmonary embolism while at Walt Disney World. I had no history of blood clots so to think I had a PE was almost unbelievable. I was immediately sent to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with systemic lupus and autoimmune hepatitis. My local doctors said my case was too complicated and I was referred to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida.
There I underwent numerous test where I was finally diagnosed with stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver, hepatic hypertension, primary biliary cirrhosis, systemic lupus that was effecting almost all of my organs, fibromyalgia and APS. All of these were basically caused by some form of autoimmune disorder. I have no family history of autoimmune disease so it was a shock. Not quite as shocking as when my doctor said, “there is no cure for any of this and all we can do is hope to slow things down”. I was 53. How can this happen to me? Where did this come from?
I am one of the founders of Loving My Veteran, a veteran advocacy and support community. One day someone sent me an email about the toxic water on the military bases. I did not connect the water with my diseases. I began looking into it and found where Alameda was a Superfund site. Basically Alameda had one of the most contaminated water supplies of any base on the list.
I began to connect the dots. Thirty years had passed since we were stationed there. It never once occurred to me that the water I drank then could be what is killing me now. I poured over report after report.
The Navy was informed in 1974 that the waste from NAS Alameda was contaminating the San Francisco Bay. It was possibly killing the fish. They had to find a way to stop it. I remember saying, “The Fish? It was killing the fish. What about all of us that you allowed to drink the water? We were never told about the water.”
The more I looked into it the madder I got. I currently have 20 pages of toxins found in the water supply at Alameda. As I researched I found that these same toxins were in the water supply at hundreds of other bases as well. No one ever told us about it. They let thousands, and thousands, and thousands of military members and their families drink the water.
To date the cost to clean up the toxic waste at NAS Alameda is $539 million with an additional $80 - $90 million expected to finish the project. We still have not been told about the potential risk to our health. No one has offered to pay for our healthcare.
We have spent over $102,000 to find out I am going to die and hopefully slow things down. I lost my health insurance when I got sick. This coat is coming out of our pockets with no income. Our retirement is gone.
I wonder how many other families are going through this. I wonder how many families have lost children or family members due to unexplained cancers and other diseases. I never made the connection since 30 years have past. I moved back to the east coast when we got out of the military. There are not generations of families who lives on these bases staying around them so we do not see the clusters of illnesses like we did in Hinkley or Flint River. Our military, veterans and their families have moved all across the country so it makes it difficult to find them and make the connection.
It may be too late for me but as long as I am breathing it is my mission to bring this issue to the forefront. It is time we join together. It is time that no other family has to loose their life savings to fight an illness that was caused by drinking contaminated water. Especially since DoD has know about it for years and has done nothing.
How can you join the fight? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you include the base or base you or your family were stationed at in the subject line. Share this information with everyone you know. For more information go to our website www.projectyourvoice.org and sign up for our newsletter.