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Friday, January 21st, 2022

House bill proposes support for Americans affected by mysterious Havana Syndrome

A new House bill introduced by United States Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH), Jason Crow (D-CO), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) — the Havana Syndrome Service Member Support Act — seeks to provide aid for those with Havana Syndrome-induced brain injuries and initiate federal efforts to address related attacks.

“Since 2016, our fellow Americans serving overseas have experienced unexplained illnesses and deadly symptoms commonly known as ‘Havana Syndrome,’” Turner said. “This ongoing situation threatens our national security, and we must immediately work to protect our U.S. diplomats and citizens working abroad. This amendment would provide medical resources to the victims and most notably, investigate the causes and perpetrators of these attacks.”

Though the exact nature of the Havana Syndrome has puzzled experts, directed energy attacks have been concluded as a likely cause, as the symptoms are consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy. The illness first cropped up among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba in 2016. Other cases have appeared elsewhere since then, with more than 130 American personnel afflicted by a mix of headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo and cognitive difficulties for years as a result.

“In recent years, American diplomats and servicemembers have been debilitated by these anomalous health incidents,” Crow said. “We must ensure they have the support needed to recover, and use a whole-of-government approach to address and mitigate these incidents.”

Accordingly, the new bill would guarantee those affected by Anomalous Health Incidents would receive quick, comprehensive care. It would also mandate a multi-agency effort to root out the cause of the attacks and counter them. To that end, the Secretary of Defense would also be authorized to appoint an Under Secretary to lead any cross-functional team to address such incidents.

“We need to ensure our personnel receive timely and comprehensive health care for these incidents as well as better integrate DOD efforts with other agencies in order to address this serious threat,” Wenstrup said.

The Havana Syndrome Service Member Support Act is under consideration by the House Armed Services Committee, on which both Crow and Wenstrup serve. It has been added as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.