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Active-duty service members file claims against the government for Red Hill water contamination

By Kristen Consillio

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    HONOLULU COUNTY (KITV) — For the first time, active-duty service members sickened by the Navy’s jet fuel-contaminated water are filing new claims against the federal government.

Navy Ensign Koda Freeman says his family is still suffering the consequences of using toxic water in 2021.

“Since we’ve left Hawaii, we’ve had about 200 doctor’s visits,” he said. “Our yearly checkups, they’re going to be cancer screenings amongst many other things.”

Freeman is one of three active-duty service members now joining the hundreds of military and civilian families already involved in litigation.

He says it’s a matter of accountability. His entire family, including his three boys, are still being affected by the exposure.

“They were off the charts for PFAS, markers of jet fuel and pesticides,” Freeman said. “It’s super scary cause the more and more you talk to doctors and do research, some of this stuff, they’re called ‘forever chemicals’ for a reason.”

Army Col. Jessica Whaley and Army Maj. Amanda Feindt have also filed claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act and plan to file lawsuits, according to their attorneys.

This is significant because under federal law, service members injured while on active duty cannot sue the government.

But their attorneys argue the law does not apply in this case.

“If you are naked in your shower being poisoned by the United States that is the very definition of not in the line of duty,” said Kristina Baehr, lawyer for the service members.

Many families say they’re still experiencing long-term health problems such as seizures, neurological issues, and gastrointestinal disorders.

A spokesperson for the Joint Task Force–Red Hill would not comment on the ongoing litigation.

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