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Veterans deserve care for burn pit exposure

Posted 1/16/20

I am an Iraq War veteran who served two years in Iraq and was exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits on a regular basis. I’m always afraid that someday this is going to catch up with me. This is a …

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Veterans deserve care for burn pit exposure

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Posted

I am an Iraq War veteran who served two years in Iraq and was exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits on a regular basis. I’m always afraid that someday this is going to catch up with me. This is a serious concern for a lot of us.

I am requesting your support as a co-sponsor to Senate Bill 2950, the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act.

The number of burn pits operating in overseas conflict zones exceeded 230 at the height of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, exposing tens of thousands of troops and contractors to toxic contaminants. While the sheer number of open burn pits has been reduced, it will be no consolation to troops adversely and permanently affected.

Reserve Component servicemembers and their families wrestle with the overwhelming health care effects of open burn pits and they should be able to seek care from the VA. However, they have had difficulty showing service connection because their medical records were never kept, were lost or were destroyed. To further complicate the issue, National Guard and Reserve members have to prove they performed duty near burn pits, but their orders don’t provide exact location(s) of their duties for national security purposes.

By cosponsoring this bill, lawmakers will help their constituents, whether they are active duty or Reserve Component and whether they have on record the location where they were exposed to toxins. The bill will not remove the required medical documentation, but at least the location of exposure will now be verified and documented by the Department of Defense.

Jeffrey Stegman

Raleigh

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