Burn Pit Registry strengthened by new bill

This month, the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act was passed which will allow family members of deceased veterans to enter cause of death in the registry. This will aid the registry in becoming a useful tool for researching the health effects of toxic exposure on veterans.

According to an article published by Stripes.com, “burn pits were used until 2010 at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to burn trash, human waste, petroleum, rubber and other debris, releasing hazardous fumes into the air. Some servicemembers exposed to the smoke have attributed medical conditions, such as respiratory issues and cancer, to it.”

Facilitated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Burn Pit Registry was created in 2014 in an attempt to voluntarily obtain health information from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Today, it comprises of more than 170,000 troops.

Rep. Raul Ruiz, a medical doctor, was one amongst many that lead the congressional Burn Pits Caucus and sponsored the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act. “The burn pit registry is a proactive thing veterans can do to feel empowered and share information, to have a communication mechanism,” Ruiz said. “The registry is not an end-all.” According to the article, Ruiz is planning to introduce more legislation to secure benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits in the coming months.

One of these plans would be a bill that would place veterans with burn pit exposure status as priorities for VA health care. Currently, veterans who enroll for VA health care are placed into priority groups based on their need. Burn pit exposure is not part of this arrangement.

Another bill Ruiz is planning would add lung diseases from burn pit exposure to a list of conditions presumed to be service-related. The bill would fast-track benefits for veterans suffering from those diseases. It would mark the first time veterans with burn pit exposure would be entitled to such treatment from the VA.

To learn more about the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, click here.

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability