This week, I attended a Veterans Affairs' Committee hearing on veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances, such as water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Because of Camp Lejeune's location in our state, this issue is very personal to me.
Thousands of Navy and Marine veterans and their families who lived on Camp Lejeune have contracted various forms of cancer and other diseases believed to be attributable to their service at the base before it was designated a Superfund site in 1988. Studies are ongoing, but these veterans and their families have waited more than two decades to get answers about what is making them sick.
That's why I have introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009. My legislation would allow veterans and their family members stationed at Camp Lejeune while the water was contaminated to get medical care from the VA. These veterans and their families deserve closure to this tragic situation, and Thursday's hearing was a step in that direction. I believe we must do what is right by funding the government's scientific studies of this issue and caring for these patriots and their families.
To see video footage from the hearing, please click here.
Also this week, I introduced two pieces of legislation related to lands in Western North Carolina. The Pisgah National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act would authorize the U.S. Forest Service to acquire twenty-three acres of land near Catawba Falls and the Pisgah National Forest and allow the Forest Service to open a public trail to Catawba Falls. The second bill, The Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act, would allow the town of Blowing Rock to acquire permanent ownership of its water supply reservoir and give the Parkway a 192-acre buffer tract from the town.
North Carolina's public lands are some of our state's greatest assets. The Pisgah National Forest provides tremendous environmental and economic benefits to McDowell County, and providing trail access to Catawba Falls will drive more tourists to the area. Also, ensuring the town of Blowing Rock will continue to have access to their water supply is important and gives a boost to the overall economy. Both of these pieces of legislation will allow North Carolinians to enjoy the beauty of our state.
Yesterday, I got the chance to speak with Ben Ball at WTKF-AM in Morehead City about what is going on in Washington including the Senate VA Committee hearing, health care reform, and the economy. To listen to the interview, please click here.
Next week, the Senate will take up the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill . Also, the Senate Finance Committee will have their final vote on the health care reform bill on Tuesday.
On October 19, 2009, Erskine Bowles, President of the University of North Carolina system, and I will host the 2009 Statewide Economic Development Summit. The event is geared toward local officials, small businesses, and corporations in order to better understand the tools and resources our State's vast array of public and private colleges and universities offer North Carolina businesses and industry. The summit will be held at North Carolina Central University's School of Education and is free and open to the public. To register for the summit or for more information please visit http://aiss.enews.senate.gov/t/77005/4619484/2242/0/ or call my office at (202) 224-3154. For timely updates from Washington, please visit my blog.
U.S. Senator Richard Burr