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Veteran Throws Away Medals After Loss of 17-Year-Old Daughter

Kaela went to Sea Park Elementry and Satellite High School in Brevard County, Florida, and was diagnosed with rare brain cancer at the age of 15. She was a military dependent and her father, Jim Holmes, served overseas when the war on terror began. He was afraid she would be left without a father but realized his daughter was at more risk at home in the United States at the time. Satellite Beach is one of the hundreds of military bases contaminated with PFAS, a chemical used in military firefighting foam. Brevard County is the third most contaminated area in the United States with these chemicals. 

Her parents began getting worried when Kaela started slurring and tried hard to hold her head up. They learned she had Diffused Intrinisic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a tumor that grows in the brain stem. She passed at 17 years old.

From a very young age, Kaela cared bout the environment and always filled her water bottle with tap water in the area. Brevard County has 2% of the countries DIPG cases. For decades, the Air Force knew that the firefighting foam was harmful to people and the environment and continued to use it. 

Filmmakers behind the documentary NoDefense began a PFAS diaries series telling the stories of citizens affected by PFAS contamination around the world. Jim Holmes used to worry that something bad would happen to him while he was deployed, but it turns out it was his family back home in Satellite Beach, Florida, near the base, that was really in danger. When he found out why he tossed all of his military medals.

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