CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Veterans are getting diagnosed with cancer at an alarming rate after they were exposed to toxic chemicals at K2 base in Uzbekistan.
Air force veteran and Clarksville area resident James Jay was stationed there. "A lot of times when it rained, the water had a sheen of some kind of oil on it," Jay said, "I developed a cyst on my back there that a flight surgeon had to cut."
Several of his friends and fellow service members have died from aggressive cancers after serving at K2 which was a former Soviet base. "It was a very aggressive cancer, it kind of wiped him out like in the matter of a couple months," Jay said.
Some believe the cancers are linked to chemical exposure. "Cyanide, petroleum products, there was uranium," Representative Mark Green said.
Tennessee Congressman and physician Mark Green is advocating for better medical care and compensation for K2 veterans. Green said, "because the DOD did the assessment, and they knew there were toxins there, and kept the base there for some time."
Green is a combat veteran, and he spent a short amount of time at K2. He was also diagnosed with colon and thyroid cancer at the same time, but he believes they were linked to burn pits at a different army base.
He said the number of K2 veterans with cancer is astounding when you compare it to veterans who spent time at other similar bases. "The numbers are so convincing you can’t deny a 500% increase,” Green said, “Something at that base has led to these disorders, and we have to get these guys taken care of, and their families too."
After seeing what happened with agent orange, Green said he doesn’t want to see history repeat itself. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to get nearly 16,000 veterans help, many of them deployed from Fort Campbell to K2. Green said, "We just have to make sure the VA is resourced to meet the needs."
The Stronghold Freedom Foundation is a non-profit that's advocating to help those impacted at K2. They accept donations to provide support to veterans who are sick and their widows.