On March 3rd, 2022, the House voted on the Honoring our PACT Act, which includes a presumption of service connection for pancreatic cancer due to Burn Pits toxic exposure. March 3rd is also the late Jennifer Kepner’s birthday, a California Veteran who passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Her story inspired many Burn Pits advocates and members of congress. The bill was created to help the estimated 3.5 million veterans who have been exposed to burn pits in the military.
What are Burn Pits?
Burn pits are large mounds of garbage that are lit on fire. They were used in the military to eliminate waste, including plastics, rubber, chemical waste, human waste, metals, and essentially almost anything that no longer served a purpose.
As you may imagine, this amount of waste burning contaminated the air and traveled miles. Exposure to Burn Pits has been linked to several health problems, including cancer, respiratory problems, skin conditions, and neurological issues. However, the VA sat on their proverbial “hands” for a while and was slow to take action.
8 Hot Facts on Burn Pits
Before we jump into the recently passed bill’s background, let’s hit eight quick facts on Burn Pits
- The most giant Burn Pit was the size of 10 football fields.
- During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were over 100 military Burn Pits.
- The burn pits produced thick plumes of black smoke that would sometimes loom over base camps day and night, 24/7.
- Service members were initially told the Burn Pits were safe and posed no risk to their health.
- It’s estimated that more than 3 million service members and civilians were exposed to Burn Pits.
- Burn Pits were used to incinerate everything from batteries and munitions to food wrappers and Styrofoam. Toxic wastes like chemical and human waste too.
- There are thousands of disability claims pending related to Burn Pits.
- The House of Representatives just approved a bill to help veterans affected by Burn Pits.
What’s the new Burn Pits House Bill in 2022?
The House of Representatives passed a new bill that will help veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals. The bill is called the Honoring our PACT Act. It will help veterans get the benefits and care they deserve.
After serving our country overseas, veterans are now suffering from lung ailments, cancers, malignancies, respiratory illnesses, and a whole flurry of truly awful and devastating medical conditions due to the toxic mix of garbage, dust, smoke, and debris they breathed while there.
The bipartisan legislation has a provision that will establish a presumption of service connection for 23 conditions. Presumption means that if you have one of these conditions and served in the Gulf War, it is more likely than not that your condition is related to your military service. In other words, veterans would not have to find medical literature to convince VA what we’ve known all along; burn pits are toxic and cause serious health problems. This is a huge win for millions of brave men and women who are sick.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is notorious for its lengthy – and, in some cases, impossible – disability benefit claims procedure to acquire medical treatment. Many veterans who have been poisoned by burn pits or other poisons abroad face a difficult – and, in certain circumstances, unachievable – VA claim process to get the health care they need.
Will the new House PACT Bill affect me?
It’s still early, but we’re cautiously optimistic that this house bill will be a significant accomplishment in taking care of our veterans. The Honoring, our PACT Act, has bipartisan support, which is promising in current political times. Veterans deserve better treatment than what they have been given, and we hope this new Burn Pits bill will start real change.
Thank you for your service.
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