Between 1952 and 1967 in the largest operation since D-Day over 20,000 servicemen participated in British Nuclear Weapon Tests. Developing Superweapons bought our place as a world superpower.  The cost in human terms has never been fully calculated nor appreciated, in the blinding light of the bombs a shadow was cast across the lives of so many people.    

The 2011 British NTV Health Audit shows a daunting shadow still hangs over Veterans.  75% were either certain or thought it possible the tests had damaged their health.  Ultimately 84% of veterans believe their main health condition was caused by radiation.  A study by Jean-Louis Valatx of 1800 French Nuclear Veterans shows 22.8% of their children with chronic illness and 13.4% of children with congenital anomalies.  In the UK 35% of Nuclear Test Veterans suffer depression or anxiety.    

Almost every veteran goes through their life wondering if each new condition they develop is because of the tests, looking at the illness and mortality of their children and asking is it because of the tests.  Above all experiencing a feeling of dread every time one of their descendents has a child.  This is the human cost above and beyond suffering of physical conditions, which may or may not have been caused by the tests. This is the very real, very tangible mental anguish directly attributable to the tests our veterans face every day since their return.    

Litigation action by other veterans groups has seen concentration on exposure and liability paraded through our courts to no result.  At the same time the BNTVA has watched our veteran members live daily with physical pain and mental anguish.  The time is now for the Nation to act and recognise the debt owed to its citizens for their service in unique difficult conditions.   We believe a reasonable and realistic response of the Nation should be made in three areas:    

+ Official recognition by the Prime Minister of the contribution to the development of the British nuclear deterrent and the resulting significant contribution to world peace made possible by the service achievements of our Nuclear Test Veterans.   

+ The placing of £25 million in a Benevolent Fund in recognition of service and the subsequent years of anxiety experienced by the Veterans, this fund will be jointly administered by the BNTVA and other Ex-Service organisations to alleviate need, help with treatment, pay for care and enhance wellbeing for those Veterans and their descendents in need.   

+ The formal recognition by the Nation of the contribution and the uniqueness of service conditions experienced in the form of a separate medal or award available to be bestowed on any British Service Veteran who participated in the British nuclear test programme.  

The sum of £25M in recognition equals around £6,000 per Veteran, this is far short of funds made available to our allies Veterans however, with this funding we can make a real difference to the lives of our Veterans and their families, a difference that would let them know that the Nation acknowledges not only their contribution and sacrifice but the continued mental and physical problems they live with.  The fund also creates a core element of the charitable provision of Education, Research and Support for all matters relating to people who have worked with or alongside radioactive material for the benefit of this Nation.

to comment