• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Lawmakers to introduce K2 legislation that guarantees health coverage, services for sick veterans

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers will introduce legislation in the House and Senate Thursday following a six-month CBS News investigation into toxic conditions at a military base used by U.S. service members after 9/11. It would guarantee health coverage and services for sick veterans who were exposed to toxic materials at the Uzbekistan base, known as K2. Catherine Herridge reports.

Video Transcript

GAYLE KING: We've got an update now on a six-month CBS News investigation into a remote military base used by US service members after 9/11. First on "CBS This Morning," we've learned that a bipartisan group of lawmakers will introduce legislation in the House and Senate later today. Now this would guarantee health coverage and services for sick veterans who were exposed to toxic materials at the Uzbekistan base known as K2.

Senior investigative correspondent, that's Catherine Herridge, spoke with the veterans who reported rare cancers and other illnesses after being at that base. Catherine, good morning to you. What would this legislation mean? Sounds like a very encouraging sign.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Well, Gayle, good morning. If the K2 Veterans Care Act of 2021 becomes law. It will be an extraordinary victory for these sick veterans and their families after years of being denied disability benefits by the VA. K2 veteran, Mark Jackson, who advocates on behalf of 15,000 service members who passed through the former Soviet air base, told CBS News the legislation would be a home run.

MARK JACKSON: It does get me just a little emotional, just tinge in the back of my throat, a lump, because we worked so hard for it. And the odds were stacked against it. And now we have bipartisan legislation at the beginning of this Congress.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: The legislation would establish what's called, a presumption of service connection, which means K2 veterans will no longer have to prove to the VA that their illness is linked to toxic exposure at the base. The image in our reports of former Air Force mechanic Doug Wilson, a brain cancer survivor, riding his electric wheelchair along a busy Florida highway to his physical therapy appointments struck a nerve with lawmakers.

This legislation should get Wilson more financial help, better medical care, and access to more programs, including transportation to and from his appointments. This legislation has tremendous momentum. It has bipartisan support. And the lawmakers sponsoring the bill are hopeful they can get it done in this session. Anthony.

ANTHONY MASON: That's great news Catherine. That's what happens when really solid reporting can lead to real results. Thanks Catherine Herridge.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE: You're welcome.

ANTHONY MASON: Appreciate it.