The website www.burnpits360.org has a multitude of links on its website. The one I clicked on first was labeled Burn Pit Registry. On this link, you list your name, all relevant personal information, including military service branch, and status, etc., etc. There’s a spot to check off if you worked directly at the burn pits, and if you were given a mask. There’s an open box where you can list your lung biopsy surgeon and facility. Then there is a check box for your cancer diagnosis, and listed right below that, a check box for your type of cancer. There are 24 different types of cancer listed, and if necessary, you can check off more than one. There are also 35 different types of symptoms you can check off, if you have any those as well. And yet another box will let you include any symptoms not already covered.
I hope I don’t sound flippant, because I don’t mean to. I hope I sound appalled. I hope I sound as shocked, and as astounded, and as screaming mad as I am reading all this information about our veterans and the burn pits of Iraq/Afghanistan.
So about burn pit exposure…according to the VA, burn pits have operated widely at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the official explanation of what burn pits are and what they functioned as in Iraq and Afghanistan, (https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/education/factsheets/burn-pits.pdf) After reading it, burn pits sound so harmless, don’t they? Phrases like “short- term health effects…resolve after exposure ends…” make it sound like everything will be peachy keen once the affected person gets away from the pit. And those long-term health affects? “Currently, there is not enough medical or scientific information on potential for long-term health effects in service members caused to smoke from burn pits.”
As for those “small group of soldiers” who have been identified with a “rare pulmonary condition,” it is not clear whether these applicable to the burn pits but, hey ho, have no fear, there are several groups within the VA and DOD looking into this issue.
Back in 2011, US Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) put their efforts together to get a burn pit registry started and implemented back in 2011. Their bi-partisan legislation even passed the Senate unanimously. Back on January 10th, 2013, President Obama signed PL 112-260 into law. The law provided the VA one year to get this registry up and rolling, and guess what? It is still not functional.
Now in their defense, the link is there on the VA website. There’s even a form that can be electronically filled out; but it’s a draft form, and not usable. According to the website, the VA needs extra time to “design and test the system to ensure functionality, data security, and accessibility.”
Now explain to me how, a website designed by injured vets, with a functional registry, can be up and running, and a website that the VA, with all their tech assistance and government backed knowledge, is not? Or is that question self-explanatory?