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Senator Gillibrand visits Fort Drum, discusses toxic burn pits & post improvements

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:03 PM EDT
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - Burn pits and their toxic effects on U.S. soldiers, including those from Fort Drum, were among the subjects discussed by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during a visit to the Army post on Friday.

The New York Democrat was the guest of division commander General Milford Beagle.

Gillibrand said she’s fighting for better healthcare for U.S. soldiers who were exposed to burn pits while serving in the Middle East over the past 20 years.

Burn pits were collections of garbage, construction debris and waste that were lit on fire using jet fuel - it’s how the U.S. got rid of its trash.

Gillibrand says soldiers, who were around the burn pits, breathing the air in, are now developing certain throat, stomach and brain cancers.

She adds that one out of 10 claims to the VA is getting coverage, and that needs to change.

“We know from the experience from 9/11 that when the towers fell and were put on fire by the jet fuel, that the toxins that were released were so deadly that people were developing cancers within 10 years, and the same thing is now happening from the war on terror,” said Senator Gillibrand.

She also threw her support behind building a $42 million physical fitness testing facility field house, which will help soldiers prepare for the Army Combat Fitness Test.

“Readiness is about physical fitness. Their vision for the center is to combine every aspect of health and well being, from mental health to physical health, and we’re in the north country and it’ll be great to train inside during the winter,” said Senator Gillibrand.

She said she’s also fight for other projects for Fort Drum, including $27 million for improving drinking water from wells on post, as well as $10 million to complete the construction of a new railhead.

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