Burn pits are back on the front lines in Washington, bill to be voted on again

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - After 2 decades in the army, Retired First Sergeant William Marshall knows how dangerous burn pits can be.

“If you’re on guard and your tent is 50 yards away from the pit itself, where you sleep, and the wind changes in the middle of the night, that’s smokes coming over you and you’re going to breathe it for hours,” said Ret. SFC William Marshall.

Sgt. Ryan Mason, a Carthage native, was one of his men. He died of esophageal cancer last year. His family contributes it to his burn pit detail in Iraq.

“Ryan Mason found himself in a place where he just breathed in toxic fumes for six straight months, every day,” said Marshall.

Last week, the Senate failed to pass a bill that would have expanded medical coverage for millions of combatants exposed to the burning trash.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has been outspoken on the Senate floor about the bill and plans to amend it.

“Republicans have said we want an amendment to change a provision that has nothing to do with veterans health care. The Republicans support this. The Democrats added a provision that has nothing to do with veterans health care, and it’s designed to change government accounting rules so that they can have a $400 billion spending spree,” said Senator Toomey.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who spoke with 7 News on Friday, says that’s antithetical to the bill.

“They deserve state-of-the-art healthcare that can help them survive and treat these wounds that they received in battle,” said Gillibrand.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted Sunday night there will be a new Senate vote on the bill this week.

Despite the outcome, Marshall says Sgt. Mason’s legacy will live on through a website influenced by Mason himself called FormerForce.com.

“Mason was the worker. He was tough, he was a teammate. It helps us keep Mason alive,” said Marshall.

President Biden has said once the bill is passed, he will sign it.

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