Recently I wrote on the Iraq and Afghanistan burn pits that operated widely at military sites. At the time the article was written, the official Burn Pit Registry for the VA wasn’t functional. However, it is now. And if you are eligible, you should register.
If you are a service member or a veteran who deployed to contingency operations in the Southwest Asia theater of operations at any time on or after August 2, 1990 (as defined in 38 CFR 3.317 (e) (2)), or Afghanistan or Djibouti on or after September 11, 2001 and you are suffering from any health complications, no matter how small, it is important for you to register.
The following areas are included: Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Djibouti, Gulf of Amden, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Waters of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea.
While the VA is not officially servicing connecting burn pit exposure at this time, the following is included in the official Pre-participation Fact sheet:
Veterans and Servicemembers who were close to burn pit smoke or exposed for longer periods may be at greater risk for health problems. Health effects from burn pit exposure will vary and depend on a number of factors such as the kind of waste being burned, pre-existing conditions, and wind direction.
There is not enough medical or scientific information to conclude that short or long-term health effects have occurred from exposures to smoke from burn pits or other airborne hazards during recent deployments. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to study the health of Veterans who have deployed to recent conflicts. VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) are working on initiatives that address clinical issues and the need for long-term studies.
Please note that this is only a registry for documented exposure. Signing up does NOT start a claim for service connection. However, it may help your claim should you ever need to file one. We would also recommend noting documentation. Print out a copy of your registry if possible. If not, take screen shots, note the date and time, and save it. As we know, often service connection is only granted from the time the claim is filed. It’s a struggle to get your symptoms connected any earlier than your claim date. And then, C&P exams seem to look for anything to discredit a possible claim. So protect yourself now. The registry is saying that you need a Premium DS Logon level 2 account to sign up. If you don’t have one, get one. The VA website tells you how. And again, screen shot everything you do, if you can’t print it out.