Funeral for Idaho leader on radiation issues set for Thursday
Washington, DC â?? Idaho native Sheri Garmon will do more to advance her cause for compensation for victims of radiation exposure than she will ever know, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Garmon, an Emmett native who pushed to have Idahoans included a national radiation compensation fund, died last week of complications related to cancer. At the request of Representative Kathy Skippen, Crapo is sending a statement to be read at Garmonâ??s funeral on Thursday. In the statement, Crapo recalled meeting Garmon at an Emmett rally in September of last year, after she had been diagnosed with cancer. â??What most astonished me was the way Sheri was able to continue to keep a positive outlook, to focus on her future and that of her family. She dedicated what was left of her life to working toward a goal. I told her and many of you on that day back in September 2004 that I resolved to join that fight. I have kept my word to Sheri and will continue to work to achieve her goal to get Idahoans recognized under the compensation programs for radiation exposure victims. â??Just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak one more time with Sheri. This time she had entered the hospital for what was probably the last time. And, yet, the same spirit she exhibited last year was evident, if not stronger. When I offered solace and prayers for her condition, she showed confidence, hope and a fighting spirit. She reiterated her desire for more time to use to help move forward on legislation that will compensate Idahoans who were affected by the nuclear testing so long ago.â??Crapo has introduced S. 998, a bill to make Idahoans eligible for inclusion under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The fund assists those who prove exposure to government-caused radiation fallout. Garmon feared she was among those victims.Earlier this month, Crapo wrote the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to seek expedited action on S. 998. This week he added two more letters seeking legislative action, including a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), asking RECA reforms be put forth in policy decisions as legislative changes are considered. Crapo said while the sweeping changes in RECA contemplated by a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study released earlier this year are studied, Idahoans should not have to wait to be included in the existing program. â??The pressing needs of currently afflicted Idahoans should not have to wait while Congress works to establish a new mechanism to administer assistance,â?? he wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt this week.