By: Jacob Dawson for VTDigger, Sept. 13, 2019
BURLINGTON — Two local physicians joined the ranks of Vermonters protesting against the imminent arrival of the F-35 fighter jets Friday, demonstrating outside Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Main Street office.
It was the fifth day in a row opponents of the new jets turned up at Vermont’s senior senator’s office to call for a “delay” in the basing of F-35s at the Burlington International Airport.
The planes — the most expensive weapon in Pentagon history — are expected to begin arriving in Vermont later this month.
Jean Szilva, MD, who practices family medicine in Winooski, and John Reuwer, MD, a retired South Burlington emergency doctor, joined the protest in the hallway outside Leahy’s office. The senator’s office door remained closed, after protesters earlier this week refused to leave, prompting aides to call the police.
Leahy’s state director, John Tracy, met with the doctors for about 35 minutes, as they raised concerns about noise mitigation efforts, the impact on public health and Leahy’s involvement in the basing.
“We are here to represent thousands of people who are going to be harmed by the basing in Vermont, and we’re representing especially the medical community,” Szilva said while handing Tracy another copy of the demands. “[The basing] is going to harm them physically, emotionally — and may harm them for generations.”