Two new bills introduced to support veterans exposed to burn pits

Lawmakers and advocates have urged new action to support those exposed to toxic burn pits that are assumed to be the cause of a long list of chronic illnesses. Today, more than 173,000 servicemembers who spent time in Iraq have signed their names onto a national government registry that tracks exposure to burn pits, oil well fires, and other airborne hazards.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “Hundreds of open pits have been used at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to burn trash, human waste, petroleum, rubber, and other debris and released hazardous smoke into the air. Some troops exposed to smoke from burn pits have attributed medical conditions, such as respiratory issues and cancer, to the toxic fumes. But much work remains for government officials to make that connection, lawmakers and advocates said.”

“It doesn’t take a genius to understand there is an association between this toxic smoke and somebody’s ill health,” said Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., an emergency room physician. “We ban the use of burn pits in the United States of America because it could cause health effects including cancer. Then why are we allowing American soldiers being exposed to burn pits in other counties when our government and our military are doing the burning?”

Now, two new bills have been introduced that would expand the tracking and evaluation of those who spent time living or working near burn pits while deployed overseas. The first is The Family Member Access to Burn Pits Registry Act of 2019, or H.R. 1001, which would expand the registry to allow family members of veterans to register their loved ones who might be too sick to do so or have died.

The second bill is the Burn Pits Veterans Revision Act of 2019, or H.R. 1005. According to the article, this bill would “create a diagnostic code and evaluation criteria for obliterative bronchiolitis, a medical condition often linked to burn pits. The law would also create a disability rating for the illness.”

To learn more about what is being done for veterans exposed to burn pits, click here.

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability