Non-Hodgkin lymphoma affects an estimated 19 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. annually. It is a blood cancer that uses the body’s infection-fighting lymph system to spread.
According to the Air Force Times, nine military officers who had worked a nuclear missile base in Montana have been diagnosed with blood cancer. There are “indications” the disease may be linked to their service, according to military briefing slides obtained by The Associated Press. One of the officers has died.
All of the officers, known as missileers, were assigned as many as 25 years ago to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. This base is home to a vast field of 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile silos. The nine officers were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a January briefing by U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Daniel Sebeck.
What Does a Missileer Do?
Missileers ride caged elevators deep underground into a small operations bunker encased in a thick wall of concrete and steel. They remain there sometimes for days, ready to turn the launch keys if ordered to by the president.
“There are indications of a possible association between cancer and missile combat crew service at Malmstrom AFB,” Sebeck said in slides presented to his Space Force unit this month. The “disproportionate number of missileers presenting with cancer, specifically lymphoma” was concerning, he said. In the slides, he said the issue was important to the Space Force because as many as 455 former missileers are now serving as Space Force officers, including at least four of the nine identified in the slides.
With the new Chairman of the VA coming on board, Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois has ensured veteran’s that their cases will be considered. This is no doubt the case for these officers who worked at Malstrom Air Force Base in Montana more than 25 years ago.
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Has this been seen in other ICBM silo bases, or is it unique to Malmstrom? If the latter, the culprit could be radon gas from the local geology or a chemical used at the base. If proximity to nuclear warheads was the cause, we would expect to see the same issue with ballistic submarine crews as well.