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Atomic Veterans Offered Certificates For Their Sacrifice

Image of a nuclear bomb test explosion in the Pacific in 1958.
Nevada National Security Site
Observers watch an explosion during Operation Hardtack in 1958. 35 nuclear tests were conducted in the Pacific, exposing troops to radiation.

More than 500,000 American veterans were exposed to nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s to the early 1990s. These so-called "atomic veterans" were not permitted to speak about their participation in the tests until 1996 when the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Laws were repealed. Now the veterans who were exposed to the radiation from the weapons program will be offered a certificate marking their contribution.

Some say a piece of paper is not enough, especially considering the health problems they have faced in the years since the exposure — problems like cancer, infertility and nerve diseases. Host Frank Stasio speaks with American Homefront Project reporter Stephanie Colombini about her story on the Pentagon's offer of certificates for atomic veterans.
 

Laura Pellicer is a digital producer with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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