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Veterans of atomic testing { May 11 2003 }

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Group seeks to help veterans of atomic testing
Marsha Sills

May 11, 2003

LAFAYETTE — They were told that they could clean the radiation off their bodies with the sweep of a broom or spray from a shower nearly 50 years ago, but too many have learned with their lives the damage of the military’s nuclear testing, officials with one veterans group said.

Benefits are available for veterans of atomic testing, but not many people are aware of the programs out there for veterans and their families, said Frank Arceneaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Atomic Veterans.

The association will hold a meeting at 10 a.m. May 17 at the Shoney’s Restaurant in Jennings to discuss programs for atomic veterans, their widows and families.

About 385,000 military men participated in atomic testing between 1945 and 1963, when it was banned.

About 29 illnesses and cancers are recognized by the Veteran’s Affairs as effects from atomic


Nelson “Buz” Broussard was at “Shot Badger” in Nevada in 1953.

“My hearing went bad from day one,” Broussard said. “I was below ground, but it was so bad, it almost threw me out of the 6-foot trench. The helicopters came to pick us up and kicked up sand. It had turned to glass. It was


Broussard was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has been fighting for the government to recognize that it’s associated with his exposure.

Broussard said he believes the inhalation of the radioactive materials in the sand led many men to get lung cancer.

He said it’s not rare to attend an atomic veterans’ meeting and find men who never knew that help was out there for them. He said many men still believe the testing is classified and have never spoken about their experiences.

“One in five of the guys who come to the meeting or their families have no idea there is a special atomic veterans program,” Broussard said. “A larger percentage believe that they should never talk about it.”

A representative from the Veterans Affairs office will be at the meeting to discuss benefits.

The meeting is open to atomic veterans, widows of atomic veterans and their families.

©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
May 11, 2003

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