Toxic exposure from combat burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t a new topic, but veterans advocates hope it will get new attention in 2019.
Several groups — most prominently, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — in recent months have been pushing the issue back into the public spotlight, in hopes of spurring more public policy reaction from lawmakers.
The hope is that Congress and Veterans Affairs officials can move more quickly on research and support services before another generation of former military personnel starts showing grave health effects from the chemical poisoning.
In fact, much of 2018’s veterans policy on Capitol Hill revolved around Vietnam veterans’ exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during that conflict. Decades later, the substance has been linked to numerous rare cancers and other detrimental health effects, and veterans groups are still lobbying VA to expand their illness definitions to expand veteran benefits.