Leo Shane talked about the passage of the PACT Act, which will expand health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxins during their military service.
Massive trash fires were used in Iraq and Afghanistan to eliminate a host of military waste, office waste, vehicle parts, human waste, some toxic chemicals, and pretty nasty things. They were used for years in both of those war zones. They were covered in jet fuel and burned to get rid of them. Some folks near the pits war some protective equipment, but those living in myspace breathed in the toxic smoke daily.
If there’s a high rate of respiratory illnesses, of rare cancers coming from these younger veterans, you know, 30, 40-year-olds who all of a sudden are developing brain cancer should not be getting that. So they believe there is a link. Here are some of the things burned in there that caused some of these serious illnesses.
“The Military Times” broke the story back in 2008. We have been going on this for 14 years, but trying to pin down exactly what was in the fires, who is getting sick in what areas, that has been really difficult for V.A. Congress is stepping in and saying, look, we have standards for clear, scientific links for toxins in the military and the benefits.
In this case, the science is a little fuzzy. We can’t keep pushing these folks away and saying, “we can’t help you.” they are going to step in, create some presumptive illnesses, presumptive conditions, at they look if you are overseas and in Iraq, Afghanistan, we are going to start helping you out.
The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances.The law will help VA provide the best possible care and benefits to Veterans who have been exposed to these dangerous conditions.
The PACT Act is the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history. It expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove that your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption.
These cancers are now presumptive:
Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
Head cancer of any type
Lymphatic cancer of any type
Lymphoma of any type
Reproductive cancer of any type
Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
These illnesses are now presumptive:
Asthma that was diagnosed after service
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
If you served in any of these locations and time periods, VA has determined that you had exposure to burn pits or other toxins. We call this having a presumption of exposure.
On or after September 11, 2001, in any of these locations:
The airspace above any of these locations
On or after August 2, 1990, in any of these locations:
Veterans exposed to burn pits and developing diseases are fighting for their lives. Congressman Joe Morelle (D-NY 25th) says that nearly three-quarters of the claims made to the VA by these veterans have been rejected.
The PACT Act will slash through a lot of the red tape associated with getting treatment. Under this act, veterans will not have to prove that their exposure caused their illness – the burden of proof will now be on the US government. This will hopefully save lives, according to Zeigler.
Marine Robert Ziegler was infantry deployed like many others in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and was around toxic fire pits.
“With burn pits, we used rocket fuel, jet fuel, we used to burn everything,” he says. And things they could not transport home, like equipment, they also burned. There were also chemicals — of what — he says God only knows. “So that’s 14 months I was totally in all that,” he says. The pits were scattered throughout forward operating bases.
Ziegler says he is now combating various ailments, possibly related to the pits and the barrage of sandstorms in the desert. “Every time I cough or sneeze, I see stars, I get really hot, feel like I’m going to faint,” says Ziegler, “I have irritable bowel syndrome.” He says every year; it’s something new.
The PACT Act is designed to ease the process for VA disability claims by making changes to or establishing new presumptives for certain conditions related to toxic exposure.
Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 or the Honoring our PACT Act of 2021
This bill addresses health care, the presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.
The bill provides eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care, including mental health services and counseling, to veterans who
participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (a qualifying activity that requires a corresponding entry in an exposure tracking record system),
served in specified locations on specified dates, or
deployed in support of a specified contingency operation.
The bill establishes the Formal Advisory Committee on Toxic Exposure to assist with the various procedures in establishing or removing presumptions of service-connection.
The bill modifies or establishes the presumption of service-connection for certain conditions or purposes for various groups of veterans.
Among other requirements, the VA must:
provide a veteran with a medical examination regarding the nexus between a disability and toxic exposure risk activity if a veteran submits a disability compensation claim for a service-connected disability with insufficient evidence,
incorporate a clinical questionnaire to help determine potential toxic exposures as part of the initial screening conducted for veterans with a VA primary care provider, and
establish a registry for current or past members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances due to the environmental release of aqueous film-forming foam at a Department of Defense location.