PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A US Congressman from Pennsylvania is promising action following a KDKA investigation into a new crisis facing America’s military.
Some are calling exposure to “burn pits” in Iraq and Afghanistan this generation’s Agent Orange.
“I get sick all the time,” veteran Shawn Schrag said. “I’m coughing and right now.”
As a paratrooper in Iraq, Schrag would often tend to burn pits — where platoons would pile all kinds of garbage, plastics and human waste — douse it all with diesel fuel and set it afire.
Years later, he and tens of thousands of other war on terror vets wonder if their exposure to the pits and the thick, dark toxic smoke is the cause of their health problems, such as respiratory ailments and severe headaches.
“To give you an example, when I came back from Iraq, about three weeks later, I had the most intense ever,” veteran Justin Moore said. “I had these migraines that would just put me on the floor.”
The vets compare the burn pits to Agent Orange, the defoliant used in Vietnam that caused in returning soldiers — though the government was slow to acknowledge a connection.
“I’ve met with Vietnam veterans that had pretty much every replaced because of the Agent Orange they experienced,” Schrag said, “and just like them, you know, they didn’t have a clue what was in that stuff being sprayed upon them. I didn’t have any clue what I was burning.”