Biden Endorses Burn Pit Legislation
President Biden endorsed Burn Pit Legislation when traveling to Fort Worth, Texas on March 8, 2022. In his effort to urge Congress and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to provide better health benefits and medical care for military veterans who were exposed to burn pits during service. This includes veterans the U.S. deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also announced that the Veterans Administration would add several conditions, including rare respiratory cancers, to the presumptive list for certain veterans
The president toured Texas with a bipartisan team of legislators as part of his “unity” agenda. VA doctors and nurses briefed the President and the Secretary of the VA, Denis McDonough, both of whom met with veterans suffering from exposure to burn pits.
“No other generation has been deployed, redeployed and redeployed and redeployed,” Biden said during his speech, referring to the post-9/11 soldier’s commitment. “Not only did they face the dangers of the battlefield, but they were breathing toxic smoke from burn pits,” he added. The President urged Congress to take information from a burn pit database and use it to craft appropriate legislation.
Burn Pit Health Effects
For small groups on the move, burn pits are an acceptable and non-life-threatening way to dispose of trash. For example, campers often throw their garbage in a campfire. The key to keeping burn pits manageable is two-fold: a small group, which is fast-moving.
Burn Pits In Iraq And Afghanistan
In the early days of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, both conditions were met. Small groups of soldiers were constantly moving about the landscape in these countries. However, as the conflicts grew, commanders called in reinforcements. Despite the change in conditions, burn bit use continued at stationary bases.
Burn pits became much, much larger than your average park campfire. The trash was more complex, too. Every sort of refuse, even metal truck parts, plastic water bottles, medical waste, and styrofoam cups, would be dumped into an open-air pit. Often, someone would douse the pit in jet fuel before setting it ablaze with a match. While the fire burned, more trash would be added, so the pit would burn continuously for long periods of time. Because commanders now stationed the military groups at semi-permanent bases, they remained close to the pits. So, as long as the fire burned the military groups remained exposed to smoke.
Burn Pit Science
Scientists have connected burn pit smoke with a number of serious illnesses, mostly cancer, and respiratory diseases.
As mentioned, burn pits usually contained toxic trash, which released toxic particles into the air. For example, plastic water bottles release tiny bits of plastic into the air. Metal truck parts release tiny bits of metal into the air. The body cannot process cadmium, mercury, chromium, and other such particles. So, they remain in the body. At high levels, these particles alter cell chemistry and lead to the creation of tumors. Medical science has connected brain cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and leukemia with particulate matter from burn pit smoke.
The toxic smoke from burn pits also adversely affects the lungs, like toxic smoke from cigarettes. Constrictive bronchiolitis is a good example. Scar tissue builds up in small breathing passages, making it almost impossible to breathe normally, even while at rest. Young adults who are otherwise healthy almost never get constrictive bronchiolitis. Yet Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have developed this disease at an alarming rate.
Burn Pit Benefits
What many veterans do not know is that disability benefits for illnesses caused by burn pit exposure are already available. The problem Veterans face is proving there is a link between their claimed condition(s) and the burn pit exposure. That is why it is critical to have an experienced VA disability attorney to help navigate these claims.
Initially, the Veteran must have a current diagnosis of a disabling condition. This diagnosis is usually relatively easy to obtain. If the VA’s C&P (compensation and pension) doctor does not diagnose a burn pit-related illness, a VA disability attorney usually partners with an independent medical expert. It is worth noting VA physicians are still undergoing training related to burn pits and other toxic exposure.
Establishing a service-related connection is the hard part. The VA has consistently blamed breathing conditions on environmental factors, mostly dust. Furthermore, it is hard to trace cancer to a specific cause, especially since most cancer victims exhibit certain lifestyle and genetic risk factors.
If lawmakers approach burn pit illnesses like they have approached Agent Orange illnesses, many more Veterans could obtain the benefits they need and deserve.
Count on Experienced Attorneys
An attorney is a valuable partner in all phases of a disability claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box on our website. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.