The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) encouraged the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to expand healthcare access for veterans exposed to hazardous chemicals, and to better support research into service-connected Parkinson’s disease.
Recently, the committee hosted a roundtable discussion about healthcare costs for veterans exposed to certain substances during their service, such as garbage burn pits, warfare chemicals, jet fuel, and cleaning solvents.
Committee members heard from community activists and advocates, including those with the MJFF, who called for a change in how U.S. veterans with health problems as a result of their service are treated.
“We are a country that purports to love its veterans — we support the troops, we put on our flag pins, we stand, veterans get discounts at Denny’s … but when a veteran is sick and dying due to the service they gave to this country, and they come back and are put under scrutiny … in a case concerning their own health care and lives? It’s unacceptable,” Jon Stewart, a veterans’ activist and television personality, said in an MJFF press release.
In a letter sent to Veterans’ Affairs committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-California), the MJFF explained that soldiers may experience physical or psychological stress, head trauma, severe brain injury, or be exposed to substances known or suspected to trigger Parkinson’s disease.