Friday, August 20, 2021

The cost of war: Burn pit exposure hurt our vets. They deserve better | Asszony


For the first time, veterans who were exposed to the hazards of burn pits in the middle east will get presumptive disability benefit status.

Burn pits are trash piles in which food, human and medical waste, heavy metals, and all sorts of other waste are coated with diesel and other fuels and then set ablaze. 

During the month of August, the Veterans Administration will begin processing disability claims for asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis as the presumptive illnesses caused by  exposure of particulate matter from burn pits during military service. The VA will only process claims if the conditions have manifested themselves within 10 years of veteran’s overseas service. These benefits would apply to those who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of southwest Asia operations from 1990 to the present.

A presumptive illness status eliminates the need for veterans to prove that their illness is tied directly to their military experience when applying for disability.

However, the VA still does not consider certain cancers as a presumptive illness — and cancer diagnoses are coming at a high rate among veterans who were exposed to burn pit smoke.

In 2009, the VA requested the National Institute of Medicine to conduct a study on the long term health effects of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. In November of 2011, it was reported by the Institute of Medicine that no evidence between exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and long term health problems. 

Mr. R. Craig Postlewaite, the department chief of health assurance, claimed, “The toxicology isn’t there; the science isn’t there.”

In 2013 the War Related Injury and Illness Center, the research arm of the VA, wrote a document titled "Burn Pits (Trash And Human Waste Exposures)" in which they stated “there is not enough medical or scientific information on potential for long-term health effects in service members caused  by exposures to smoke from burn pits.”


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