To the Editor:

Here in Vermont, we are well aware of Senator Patrick Leahy's contributions to our quality of life here in the United States. Many may not be as aware, though, of his tireless work on behalf of civilian victims of war. The Senator through his work with the Leahy War Victims Fund has assisted thousands of innocent victims of conflict around the world. His work has been especially effective in helping those injured by landmines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance that can litter battlefields for generations after conflict has ended.

As co-founder of Clear Path International, I have seen first-hand the impact unexploded ordnance can have on families and communities. Due to this dangerous debris of war, valuable farmlands lie fallow, economic development is suppressed and too often people are injured or killed by accidents involving the sometimes decades-old munitions. Most tragically, are the deaths and injuries to children. Forty percent of victims of explosive remnants of war are under 18. This problem is real. I have visited injured kids who treated cluster bombs as if they were toys. I have met with too many mothers who have lost children.

That is why Senator Leahy's most recent effort on this issue is so important. The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2013 will shelter future generations from sharing the fate of many survivors that Clear Path has assisted in our thirteen years of work on this issue. While the bill does not ban cluster munitions entirely (as many would like to see) it is an important step and one for which he and his staff deserve our recognition and gratitude. I applaud Senator Leahy's efforts and ask that you join me in supporting his work against cluster munitions.

James Hathaway Co-Founder, Clear Path International Dorset