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Vets Score One Against DoD on Burn Pits

As Veterans Day approaches, a gift of some good news. Thanks to a lot of lobbying by members of congress and vet organizations, and backed up by great reporting by the Army Times [1] and by hundreds of personal testimonies and affidavits by individual soldiers and veterans, Congress has passed some tough new guidelines regarding the frighteningly toxic burn pits on our military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. As I wrote about for TAC this month [2], individuals are returning from war with horrific, unexplained symptoms ranging from chronic breathing problems like sleep apnea to skin rashes, nerve damage, cancer and pulmonary distress. The Pentagon — so far — denies that these symptoms can be traced back to the burn pits, which have been burning in the middle of military installations like Camp Taji and Balad Air Force Base for as long as troops have been overseas and in some cases burn some 150 tons of mixed trash (including medical waste, hardware, chemicals, food, etc) a day.

Thanks in part to reporting by TAC and Antiwar.com [3], Reps. Ron Paul, R-TX, and Walter Jones, R-N.C, joined Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., as the only Republicans to co-sponsor the Democratic House bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y, which made it through the conference committee and is headed to the President’s desk this week as part of the FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

It includes provisions that will:

This is definitely a first step – the Bishop bill would create a registry that would track all of the exposed troops, and that measure did not make it into the final legislation. Meanwhile, there is a massive class action lawsuit against KBR, for which soldiers are blaming for their illnesses, and other pending legislation, like the one proposed by Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. [4], most recently. He wants automatic priority health care and benefits for veterans suffering from toxic exposures on the battlefield. We’ll see how that goes over at the DoD.

Cross posted at Antiwar.com [5]

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Comments Disabled To "Vets Score One Against DoD on Burn Pits"

#1 Comment By MattSwartz On October 28, 2009 @ 7:33 am

You just know there are some people in the DoD right now trying to figure out how to pin all of the returning vets’ respiratory problems on tobacco so that they don’t have to deal with this. I bet it will work, too.

But I hope not.

#2 Comment By joanne ochs On February 18, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

thanks to all of you who want the best out come for our troops! this is a big deal and the goverment doesn’t want any part of it. again, thank you from the family of SSG Ochs ’75-08. he completed 3 different tours of duty and contracted AML. (burn pits)
Joanne Ochs
Mother of a Fallen Solider