Read the full article by Jim Waymer, Florida Today
“Jan. 10, 2018, is a day etched in Jim Holmes’ mind. He was flying Hurricane Maria recovery helicopter missions in Puerto Rico when he got a phone call from his family doctor with the news that Kaela, his 17-year-old daughter,hadDiffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an extremely rare, difficult-to-treat brain cancer.
She had complained about blurred vision. ‘We thought she just needed new glasses,’ Holmes said during emotional testimony March 11 before the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations…
Kaela, a Satellite High School student, died March 29, 2019, three days after her 17th birthday with her parents and the family dog at her side.
‘I lost my only child due to being poisoned by the same military that I faithfully served and fought for,’ Holmes told the subcommittee.
It’s a bitter truth for Holmes to swallow.
After devoting 30years of his his life to the U.S. military, Holmes always thought the top brass would always have his back. Now, after losing Kaela, he says he couldn’t have been more wrong.
‘The Air Force just acts like it doesn’t matter,’ said Holmes, 48, who grew up in Denver Colorado and also served in the Air Force.
All he wants now is for the military to take responsibility for the contamination they caused and the lives those chemicals have claimed.
‘We don’t want any money. All we want to do is to make sure Kaela’s friends and our friends who still live in the area have safe drinking water,’ Holmes said.
Holmes, who now lives in Suntree, recently joined a live Facebook discussion about so-called PFAS chemicals with actor/activist Mark Ruffalo and Robert Bilott,the attorney whoRuffalo portrays in the recent Hollywood film, Dark Waters. The film tells the story of Bilott’s real-life case against DuPont, after the company contaminated a West Virginian town with PFAS chemicals.
PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals, once commonly used in firefighting foams, are unregulated. But science is finding that even at extremely low exposures, the compounds are implicated in some types of cancer, thyroid defects, immune suppression and pregnancy complications, according to a scientific panel that examined the chemicals from 2005 to 2013 and recent scientific studies.
Test have found the same chemicals in groundwater in Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach.
Congress is debating whether, or to what extent, to make industry responsible for PFAS cleanups. Proposals include forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enact a strict limit for the chemicals in drinking water and to deem some of them “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law, freeing up more federal money for cleanups.
‘What really killed us after Kaela passed away,and we started learning about the contamination and its link to her cancer,was the lack of concern by the command leadership at Patrick Air Force Base and the DoD (Department of Defense) in general,’ Holmes said during the recent live Facebook broadcast with Ruffalo, which was arranged by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.
‘In this case, industry has known at least since the ’60s that these substances were toxic,’ said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs.
Holmes wants the federal government to put up $25 million for a grant program to help provide filters at people’s homes to remove the so called perfluorinated compounds he says killed his daughter.
‘Not once in the 16 years we’ve lived in the Patrick Air Force Base/Satellite Beach, FL area were we ever made aware that the ground water was severely contaminated with a hazardous substance called PFAS,’ Holmes told the congressional subcommittee…”