Biden: more help coming for vets exposed to ‘burn pits’

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 4:57 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - President Biden’s State of The Union speech Tuesday night had good news for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Burn pits were used by the military to dispose of a wide variety of waste, what President Biden described Tuesday night as “the waste of war, medical and hazardous material, jet fuel and so much more.”

Burn pits are widely suspected as the cause of a variety of respiratory illnesses and cancers.

But the government has been slow to acknowledge a link between the pits and illness, critics argue.

“The VA (Veterans Administration) is finding new ways of linking toxic exposure to disease, already helping more veterans to get benefits. And tonight I’m announcing we’re expanding eligibility of veterans suffering from nine respiratory cancers,” the president said Tuesday night.

“I’m also calling on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan, finally get the benefits of the comprehensive healthcare they deserve,” he said.

The initial impact of Biden’s announcement appears to be small. The Military Times reports Biden’s announcement may affect as few as 100 veterans whose illness claims were denied.

But in the long run, Biden’s efforts may make it easier to link exposure to toxic substances to disease, “helping more veterans get more benefits.”

“Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan faced many dangers, one being stationed in bases, breathing in toxic smoke from burn pits,” the president said Tuesday night.

“They come home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors, never the same.”

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