Veterans are praising new legislation that, if passed, will provide immediate VA health care and disability benefits to service members exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits.Following several reports by 8 On Your Side on the burn pit issue, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R)-Florida announced he has introduced into Congress the "Protection for Veterans' Burn Pit Exposure Act of 2018."
"This will enable the veterans battling illness to immediately access VA medical care and disability benefits," Rep. Biliraksi stated in a Tarpon Springs news conference.
Lauren Price, a navy veteran, worked on the legislation with Mr. Bilirakis.
"It's the most important fight of my life," she said.
When Lauren Price went to war in Iraq in 2008, burn pits operated 24/7.
The military dumped any and all waste into pits, doused it with jet fuel, then ignited it.
Price remembers smoke, carrying toxic fumes and particulates, was everywhere.
"No matter what you did you couldn't hide from it," stated Price.
Christina Thundathil's duties in Iraq included burning human waste with jet fuel every day for 300 days.
"My lungs are moderately damaged," explained Thundathil.
Price and Thundathil now suffer chronic incurable bronchial and lung diseases.
"It was irrelevant where you were, when you were, if you were in the shower, there's an air conditioner running in the shower room, you were always breathing it," Price added.
The department of Defense and VA reject any connection between service members contracting rare and inexplicable diseases and open air burn pits.