PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — One war sent troops to Iraq to remove a dictator; another war sent troops to Afghanistan for a Taliban takedown that was the longest war in the nation’s history.
Troops disposed of the waste-of-war in burn pits that produced clouds of toxins. According to a Veterans Affairs website, burn pits released toxins from aluminum, chemicals, paint, plastics, human waste, and more. Those toxins have been linked to a number of disorders including rare forms of cancer.
“There are so many veterans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades that were exposed to toxic fumes. they cause respiratory issues; it’s caused lots of rare cancers in what would otherwise be a healthy group of people,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria after she voted for legislation that will help millions of veterans who suffer from the effects of exposure to burn pit toxins.
The Senate has already signed off on another version of the legislation that removes the burden of proof.
“This is going to be the largest access to healthcare that any of us have seen in our lifetimes, about 3.5 million additional veterans will be covered by this. It will include veterans who served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Luria who served as a Commander in the United States Navy. “It makes 23 new presumptive conditions so if you served in this place in this time frame and you have one of these conditions you, have access to VA care.”
The millions of dollars in aid is in sharp contrast to how the nation responded to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the herbicide known as Agent Orange.
“When you look at the Vietnam veterans agent orange exposure, it took decades, four to five decades. And just a few years ago, we were able to get access for blue water that veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam never had access to VA healthcare until two and a half years ago,” said Luria.
The legislation goes back to the Senate for final passage and then it heads to the president’s desk.
President Biden believes toxins from burn pits caused the brain cancer that killed his son Beau Biden who was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.