Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Terrie Barrie

Imagine. After months of waiting, you are finally notified that your FBI security background check is complete and you are now invited to join the most secret workforce in Colorado, Rocky Flats. You enter the secret facility, fill out the W-2 forms, the health insurance forms and attend indoctrination meetings. Your heart is filled with pride because you realize you are one of the very few, elite people who can pass muster and work at the facility that produces the nuclear triggers needed to keep America safe during the Cold War. Your family, friends and neighbors share in your accomplishment, even though they will never know the details of the job you did for their safety. You took a secrecy oath, vowing never to reveal the details of the work you did on behalf of America.

You work daily in a toxic soup with the most secret and deadliest materials known to man. Plutonium, americium, neptunium, californium, tritium - just to name a few. You are told these radioactive materials can cause cancer. But you were young, possibly as young as 20 years old. Cancer is an old person’s disease. But you’re only 38, a man and have breast cancer. What’s up with that? It seems logical to you, though you don’t have a PhD, that since you spent every day for 15 years with your arms in lead-lined gloves working with these very exotic and dangerous materials, with your chest pressed against the glove box that held the radiation, that your breast cancer was caused by the materials. You were promised health care for the rest of your life. What “they” didn’t tell you was they would fight you tooth and nail to get compensation. A worker who falls from a ladder in a grocery store gets compensated for loss of employment and medical benefits, but working for the secret nuclear bomb-building complex, forget it.

You protected your home. You helped protect your neighbor’s home. You helped protect the stranger’s home halfway across the country because you helped build the nuclear deterrent that was needed during the Cold War. You’re damn right to be proud of your contribution in keeping America safe. America owes you a debt of gratitude. They can repay that debt by fairly compensating you for you illness.

-Terrie Barrie

In Response to Home Pride

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