ABOUT THE SERIES
Tens of thousands of America's former nuclear bomb builders are sick, dying or already dead because of their exposure to radiation and other poisons. You knew that.
After decades of stonewalling, the government started a compensation program in 2000. You knew that.
After four years of bungling, Congress reformed the program, demanding that it be "compassionate, fair and timely." Perhaps you knew that.
But what you may not know is that today only one in four claimants has been compensated and millions more of your taxpayer dollars have been wasted creating hurdles instead of help.
For many of the nation's cold warriors, the government's game is deadly denial.
The Americans who built the nation's nuclear weapons are still fighting a cold war. Tens of thousands of sick nuclear arms workers — or their survivors — from every state in the nation have applied for compensation that Congress established for them in 2000. But most have never seen a dime.
Former Los Alamos worker Ben Ortiz was one of the first workers to speak publicly about the ill workers’ plight. But he is still waiting for aid. Government officials told him every time his Senator or Congressman inquires on his behalf about the delay, it only delays his case even more.
The pain drives George Barrie from his bed about 3 a.m. — a nightly occurrence. He leaves his sleeping wife and stumbles to his recliner in the living room. He sits down heavily, shifting his weight, trying to make the pain bearable.