Senator Appoints Rockland Veterans Advocate To State Task Force On Depleted Uranium

Thomas P. Morahan

March 15, 2007

Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the State Legislature's Armed Forces Committee, and member of the New York State Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee, today announced the appointment of Mr. Gerald Donnellan, a Vietnam Veteran and Commissioner of the Rockland County Veterans Service Agency to the New York State Task Force on Depleted Uranium.

In November of 2006, Morahan-sponsored legislation was signed into law which ensures that military personnel and veterans of New York State get the best screening and treatment for exposure to toxic and radioactive metal, particularly depleted uranium (D. U.). Depleted uranium was widely used for the first time during the Gulf War to make anti-tank munitions and armor-plating for Abrams tanks. Exposure to depleted uranium has become a health problem for soldiers who have been struck by shrapnel containing uranium or who have inhaled uranium particles released by the combustion of depleted uranium weapons. It is believed that hundreds of U.S. personnel were exposed to D. U. during the Persian Gulf War, and even higher numbers of individuals are presently being exposed to toxic and radioactive metal in Iraq. The new law establishes a task force to study the health effects of exposure to hazardous materials, sets up a registry for those who may have been exposed, and will report on the effects of depleted uranium exposure to the State’s Division of Veterans’ Affairs. Under the new law, the state is also required to assist any military member or veteran in obtaining federal treatment services for exposure to depleted uranium.

"Jerry Donnellan's background makes him a most appropriate nominee, and I am certain he will make an excellent member of the Task Force," said Senator Morahan.

"We need to track the health of this generation of veterans, so Depleted Uranium doesn't become to this war what Agent Orange was to Vietnam," said Jerry Donnellan, Director, Rockland County's Veterans Service Agency.

"Jerry Donnellan, a veteran himself, will be a great addition to the Task Force on Depleted Uranium with his knowledge and expertise in Veterans Affairs," said Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. "It is crucial that our troops get the proper screening to be sure they haven't been exposed to the effects of depleted uranium."