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Rubio, Collins and Colleagues Applaud Unanimous Passage of Bill to Support Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’

Jun 9, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and colleagues in applauding the Senate’s unanimous passage of their bipartisan effort to support American public servants who have suffered brain injuries from probable directed energy attacks. The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act (S.1828) authorizes additional compensation for injured individuals and is applicable to U.S. State Department or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees at the discretion of the agency head. This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required. 

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that first surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.” According to the press, there have been more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including instances on U.S. soil. Ailments have included dizziness, tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years later. 

Joining Rubio and Collins in reintroducing this bipartisan bill were Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), and Jim Risch (R-ID).

“I am pleased to see the Senate pass this important bipartisan legislation, which will provide the CIA Director and the U.S. Secretary of State with the authorities needed to properly assist U.S. personnel who have endured attacks while serving our nation,” Rubio said.  “There is no doubt that the victims who have suffered brain injuries must be provided with adequate care and compensation. Further, it is critical that our government determine who is behind these attacks and that we respond.”

“Far too many ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims have had to battle the bureaucracy to receive care for their debilitating injuries. American personnel who have undergone these attacks while serving our country should be treated the same way we would treat a soldier who suffered a traumatic injury on the battlefield,” Collins said. “I am pleased that there has been widespread, bipartisan support for my bill, which will provide additional support to these government employees who were harmed while representing our interests.  We also need a whole-of-government approach to determine what this weapon is and who is wielding it in order to prevent future attacks and protect Americans.” 

“As the Intelligence Committee continues to push for more answers on these mysterious and debilitating attacks, I’m proud that the Senate overwhelmingly approved this bipartisan bill to ensure our U.S. personnel receive the compensation and care they rightfully deserve,” Warner said. “We continue to be indebted to these brave men and women who proudly serve our country while putting their own safety on the line, and this bill will make sure that we can provide financial relief as they seek medical treatment for the injuries they’ve endured.” 

“It is shameful and unacceptable that so many American public servants and their families who are suffering from these mysterious brain injuries have gone without access to the medical benefits they need and deserve. That must change, and today, the Senate took an important step forward to help right that wrong,” Shaheen said. “Securing appropriate support for those injured has been a priority of mine for years, and I’m glad to partner with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on that progress and help provide additional compensation for afflicted U.S. personnel. This bipartisan bill helps create a uniform response to these attacks, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to get to the bottom of these attacks and to support those suffering from critical injuries.” 

Rubio is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.