Honoring Charlie Wolfs Memory
Last week, advocates for a bill I introduced, the Charlie Wolf Nuclear Workers Compensation Act, visited Capitol Hill and made their case directly to their elected representatives for why we need it – to streamline the compensation process for workers who have developed cancer and other illnesses while working to build the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal during the Cold War. Although Congress created the compensation program in 2000 to help ensure workers receive compensation for their illnesses, it has been marred by red tape and countless problems.
I’m fighting alongside these Cold War veterans and their families to pass the bill, which we named for Charlie Wolf, a former Rocky Flats worker, who developed brain cancer after being exposed to radioactive materials on the job. It’s been nearly two years since Charlie died, yet his memory lives on in the countless people, including myself, who were inspired by his strength of spirit and tenacity as he battled his illness and fought for just compensation. Sadly, his widow is still fighting for compensation.
While we’ve been making steady progress toward passing the Charlie Wolf bill, the process is frustratingly slow. Time is a resource many sick Cold War workers cannot afford to waste. So today, I offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would take an intermediate step to improve the program.
My amendment creates an independent oversight board to help improve the effectiveness of the program. The board was recommended by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office following an exhaustive review of the program that took more than a year to complete. This independent board would shine a much-needed light of transparency and accountability into a government bureaucracy badly in need of reform, and it would be able to make recommendations to better implement the program. My dedication to the Charlie Wolf Act hasn’t changed, but my amendment is a critical step in the right direction.