Bennet, Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Bill to Support Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’

Legislation Would Support U.S. Diplomatic Staff and Others Who Have Suffered Brain Injuries

Washington, D.C.— Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would authorize additional compensation to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from probable microwave attacks. 

Last week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report on the more than 40 U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, and at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, who suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.” Ailments have included dizziness, tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Although the attacks first began in late 2016, many of the affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems.

Under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA), a federal employee may currently receive a schedule award if the employee suffers the loss or the loss of use of a part of the body, but not if the impairment is to the brain, back, or heart. The proposed legislation would provide the CIA Director and the Secretary of State additional authority to compensate their personnel who incur brain injuries in connection with war or a hostile act.

“It’s common sense that our public servants should have access to care to treat injuries connected with their service protecting our country,” said Bennet. “This bipartisan legislation is an important step toward modernizing our system to keep pace with the evolving threats we face and ensure that government officials serving in posts overseas who sustain traumatic brain injuries receive the care they need.”

The additional compensation for brain injuries would be provided to injured State Department or CIA employees at the discretion of the agency head. This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required. 

In addition to Bennet, this legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). 

The bill text is available HERE.