unanimously passed a new bill on Monday that would provide additional federal assistance to Americans suffering from brain
injuries caused by the enigmatic "Havana Syndrome
The Helping American Victims Affected by Neurological Attacks Act (HAVANA Act
) would authorize federal agencies to provide financial and medical assistance to those affected by the incidents.
The mysterious illnesses first surfaced in Havana, Cuba
in 2016, after dozens of US Embassy staff experienced symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and visual and hearing problems. Similar cases were later reported in Guangzhou, China
, raising concerns that Americans abroad were being targeted.
The New York Times
reported last month that more than 130 people
, including spies, diplomats, soldiers, and other American personnel stationed in places ranging from China and Cuba to Europe and other parts of Asia, had been infected over the previous five years.
Two recent suspected cases occurred near the White House
, but the White House has yet to determine who is to blame or how the episodes were carried out.
Many people have reported health
problems consistent with brain injuries for years afterward, and diplomats have criticized the State Department for failing to provide proper care to government employees, according to NBC News
Today, the Senate unanimously passed my legislation to provide assistance to American service members who have suffered brain injuries as a result of likely directed energy
attacks, resulting in what is known as "Havana Syndrome." https://t.co/LFGZSfpOZ0
— Sen. Susan Collins
(@SenatorCollins) June 8, 2021
“Far too many ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims have had to battle the bureaucracy to receive care for their debilitating injuries,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a co-author of the bill and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The CIA has been attempting to obtain more information about the attacks. According to a report released in December by the National Academy of Sciences, some type of microwave weapon may be responsible for the injuries; other officials told The Times last month that they suspected a type of directed-energy device. However, the report did not specify whether the exposure was intentional or if it was released by American aficionados.
“We remain indebted to these brave men and women
who proudly serve our country while putting their own safety at risk, and this bill will ensure that we can provide financial relief as they seek medical treatment for the injuries they’ve endured,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The House could vote on HAVANA Act companion legislation soon.