Veterans exposed to ‘burn pits’ continue to fight for medical care

U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan believe that exposure to trash fires known as ‘burn pits’ has caused them to sustain long-term breathing problems and chronic illnesses.

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains that exposure to ‘burn pits’ has not been definitively linked to any long-term health effects. The VA are therefore continuing to hinder the approval process for veterans hoping to secure medical care. However, members of Congress are now pushing to expand health care coverage for veterans by forcing the VA to acknowledge burn pit exposure as a “presumed” service-connected illness.

According to an article published by NBC Philadelphia, “Congress heavily restricted the use of burn pits a decade ago. At that time, there were more than 270 burn pits at bases in the Middle East, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The Department of Defense hired private contractors to manage the burned trash piles. When something needed to be discarded, it was tossed into the flames. Veterans told NBC Bay Area they saw everything from refrigerators to plastics, and even body parts thrown into the fires. The pits burned 24 hours a day.”

Over the past decade, the VA has approved just 20 percent of the medical claims related to ‘burn pits’ with 11,581 VA disability compensation claims submitted and only 2,318 approved.

Click here to learn more about health care coverage for veterans affected by ‘burn pits’.