Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Navy Vet Who Refused NFL Award Over Anthem Protests Wants VA Not To Experiment On Animals

A Navy veteran who refused an award from the New Orleans Saints over the national anthem protests is now calling for Congress to stop the Department of Veterans Affairs from experimenting on animals.

John Wells, a disabled Navy veteran who turned down the Peoples Health Champion award from the New Orleans Saints last week because he feels the award is tainted by anti-national anthem protests, wrote a letter to Congress Wednesday on behalf of Military Veterans Advocates, a veterans service organization he runs that focuses on Agent Orange exposure.

In the letter, Wells expressed support to Democratic Rep. Dina Titus and Republican Rep. Dave Brat, who have both pushed a bill called the PUPPERS Act, which prohibits the VA from conducting painful experiments on dogs.

“Right now, countless veterans are sick and dying because of harmful exposures to Agent Orange, burn pits and other toxins encountered within the scope of their military duties,” Wells wrote to the legislators. “Various legislative and other efforts to provide benefits, health care and research for these disabled veterans have been stymied, due in large part to cost concerns and VA intransigence.”

“While these veterans are suffering, the VA is expending significant time, money, staff, research space, and other resources to conduct and defend questionable dog experimentation that is opposed by most veterans, ineffective and has little to do with service-related disabilities,” Wells added.

Other veterans’ organizations have recently written similar letters of support to reinvigorate the bill, which is currently stuck in committee. VetsFirst, American Military Retirees Association and The Retired Enlisted Association signed a letter to Titus and Brat saying that they support efforts to end unproductive and painful research. But not all veterans’ organizations back ending this type of research. For example, The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans have come out in support of dog research at the VA.

And back in September, when the debate reached its peak, VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote an op-ed in USA Today arguing for the necessity of animal research to help “unique conditions affecting our veterans.”

The fight over animal research and the PUPPERS Act is likely to continue.

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