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COL. CATKIN KILCHER-BURTON
U.S. MARINE CORPS, RETIRED
Anchorage, Alaska
COL. CATKIN KILCHER-BURTON COL. CATKIN KILCHER-BURTON

SHE HAS LED ADVOCACY EFFORTS TO RECOGNIZE "WOMEN'S CANCERS" AS PRESUMPTIVE DISEASES.

By Kristin Davis
Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

Kilcher-Burton grew up in Alaska as one of eight children imbued with the importance of teamwork and self-sufficiency. Inspired by the Marine Corps service of her stepfather (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam), she joined the Marines and served 31 years on active duty.

LATEST EFFORTS
Two years ago, Kilcher-Burton was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She attributes the cancer to exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Despite 2012 legislation that identified several female reproductive cancers as conditions eligible for hospital care, the VA routinely cites a lack of medical evidence when denying these claims. While Kilcher-Burton's local VA supported her case for medical treatment, her claim for service connection was denied. This highlighted the need to Kilcher-Burton that documenting "women's cancers" as presumptive service-connected conditions is long overdue. The Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act would provide health care for veterans exposed to a number of toxic substances, including those at Camp Lejeune. 

HOW HER SERVICE SUPPORTS MOAA'S MISSION
Kilcher-Burton is working with her congressional delegation to include any female-specific reproductive system cancers in the list of benefits granted by Congress and to include reservists in coverage. 

'I'm heartened by the amount of much-needed support and attention that this issue has been receiving. It is time to address this gap and introduce legislation to correct this situation.'

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This material originally appeared in Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA PREMIUM and LIFE members.

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