Senate Approves 'Havana Syndrome' Victim Payments Sen. Susan Collins at Dirksen Senate Office Building May 26, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Charles Kim | Monday, 07 June 2021 10:22 PM
The victims of what has been called “Havana syndrome,” mysterious attacks on governmental officials abroad, that have caused neurological damage, may soon see payments to help with medical costs, The Hill reported Monday.
The Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Mark Werner, D-Va., that would make payments to the victims of the suspected “directed energy” or “microwave” attacks.
“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,” Collins said in the report.
The money is designed to help the victims get and pay for medical bills due to the injuries the attacks caused.
“(The bill) will make sure that we can provide financial relief as they seek medical treatment for the injuries they’ve endured,” Warner said.
The mysterious attacks first came into the public eye in 2016 after government employees working in Havana became ill with neurological symptoms.
Since that time, the “syndrome” has been documented in other CIA and state department employees in various locations abroad as well as two suspected “attacks” on U.S. soil, including one reported near the White House that injured a National Security Council official, the Hill reported.
A total of 130 federal employees are estimated to have been injured by what is believed to be some sort of microwave radiation device, a report by the National Academy of Sciences said.
The alarming thing for lawmakers is that the number of attacks seem to be rising as time moves forward.
“For nearly five years, we have been aware of reports of mysterious attacks on United States Government personnel in Havana, Cuba, and around the world,” said a joint statement by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Warner. “This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing."
In March, the State Department announced that it would only staff the embassy in Havana with a minimum level of employees to do “core diplomatic and consular functions,” CNN reported at the time.
According to that report, the symptoms of the syndrome include headaches, sharp ear pain, ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, and attention issues.
The symptoms mirror a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion and come after victims said they heard some kind of “acoustic element,” like a high -pitched beam of sound or a “baffling sensation akin to driving with the windows partially open in a car,” the report said.
The House version of the bill is awaiting a floor vote before it proceeds.