FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
RE: Nation’s Leaders Still Want More Research On Burn Pits – Won’t Commit To Action
Last Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a joint Round Table discussion with the members of both the Subcommittee on Health and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, the VA, National Academy of Science, numerous Veterans Service Organizations and national advocates; to discuss the effects of DoD sanctioned operation of Open-Air Burn Pits as a method of waste disposal, in combat zones. The DoD refused to attend, just as they had for a hearing held June 7, 2018.
The DoD has operated Open-Air Burn Pits in nearly every operation overseas for decades. In 2006, an internal memo was sent to U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) detailing the air quality and health hazards at a base in Kabul, Iraq. That memo was to be the first of many of studies the DoD either initiated or sanctioned; all of which clearly stated the hazards to those serving in already dangerous situations.
In 2009, USCENTCOM issued a regulation that effectively banned burn pits if a base remained operational over 90 days or exceeded 100 inhabitants. USCENTCOM based this regulation on studies and regulations from the Department of Environmental Protection – this nation’s EXPERTS in the harm to humans from air contaminants.
Despite the nearly one century of research on air contaminants by literally thousands of federal agencies and universities worldwide; the DoD, VA and even members of Congress STILL insist that “more research” is needed to provide benefits and services to those service members who are made ill by these contaminants.
The VA issued a specific policy on April 26, 2010; to provide benefits to those veterans who are ill. Yet to date, they proudly state that only 2,000 claims have been approved for Burn Pit Exposures! With the VA’s own Burn Pit Registry having over 140,000 registrants, (which doesn’t include deceased veterans or those who were registered on another registry prior to 2014); the only logical conclusion to the very small number of approved claims is deliberate denial.
The VA now claims they initiated a tracking system to follow service members deployments throughout their careers; claiming that it will help the VA provide benefits; yet refused to provide concise answers as to why so many claims are denied and so many veterans cannot receive care for their injuries.
A few Congressional members suggested that the VA needs more money and time to research these diseases before we can conclude that these rare cancers, rare lung conditions and other life-altering / ending diseases are being contracted by exposures to airborne toxic chemicals emitted from the open-air burn pits.
Some members of Congress believe, like we do, that the time for research is over.
Our contention is that if the DoD immediately CEASES to operate open-air burn pits (in accordance with their own regulation); we won’t need 30 years to study victims; and that the VA needs to stop ignoring veterans who are sick and dying NOW; not wait 30 years to decide if we were exposed and it led to our deaths.
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