Representative Elizabeth Esty, ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Assistance, introduced H.R. 1279, the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act. The bill would establish a Center of Excellence in preventing, diagnosing, mitigating, treating and rehabilitating conditions related to veterans’ exposure to burn pits during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. The Center would be charged with using data from the registry to study whether exposure is associated with long-term health effects in veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to improving diagnosis and treatments for those exposed.
VA’s website states that exposure to toxins found in the burn pits may be associated with skin, eye, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, or internal organ problems. Exposure to burn pits is generally associated with short-term effects, such as eye irritation, acute respiratory symptoms, and skin itching or rashes. However, according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, fine dust particles and pollution in Iraq and Afghanistan may actually be more responsible for respiratory illness claimed by veterans who served there.
DAV Resolution No. 237 supports improvement of care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and environmental hazards, including a rigorous research agenda to identify any associations between such exposures and adverse health outcomes.
Please write your elected officials and urge their co-sponsorship and support for passage of H.R. 1279. Thank you for your continued efforts and participation in the DAV CAN (Commander’s Action Network).
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