On Thursday, for the first time, representatives of the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars were able to bring those concerns — along with their own — to the Congressional VA Subcommittee on Health.
And those members of Congress — some of whom are veterans themselves — spoke with one voice, regardless of political party, on the need to expedite care for veterans without waiting years for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to complete a study on the health effects of exposure to those toxins.
Deployments, including the Middle East, have continued since the beginning of Operation Desert Shield in August 1990.
Millions of service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were ordered to burn everything so it would not fall into enemy hands or impact the environment. They used burn pits for things that included human waste and batteries.
Burn pits toxins were not the only airborne hazards, heavy black smoke from burning oil fields and the brown-out conditions of frequent sandstorms carried hazards capable of bringing long-term health problems to those exposed.