Combating the Ravages of Burn Pit Damage has become the Military Generations ‘Agent Orange’

by | Aug 22, 2019 |

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The “fog of war” brings many haunting burdens to those who served overseas in war theatres, some of which lie dormant for months⏤even years after soldiers return home from deployment.

The smells and deadly chemical burning, of waste and toxic substances on military bases, exposed our military and contractors to an ungodly array of harmful, life-altering, health issues.

There were more than 250 overseas U.S. Military Bases, all of which house burn pits.

As a result, many of our deployed were exposed to smoke from hazardous air and the environment. The health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits are pointing to various forms of cancer, tumors, constant migraine headaches, rashes, respiratory and cardiovascular toxicity, neurological effects, reproductive health effects, including the defects in offspring, and more.

Troops who worked in closer proximity to burn pits have higher rates of respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and rare lung disorders.

Aerosol cans, plastic, wood, rubber, discarded and spoiled food, old uniforms, munitions, metal/aluminum cans, petroleum and lubricant products, human waste, batteries, chemicals, paint, medical, tires, electronic equipment and more, were strewn into open burn pits, doused with jet fuel and set on fire.

There were over 1.5 million American military troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between the years of 2001 and 2011 alone.

“War-related lung injuries have emerged as previously-unrecognized health problems. Physicians did not recognize the nature of illness in the beginning of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the last years of the Iraq War, as well as the ongoing Afghanistan War, new-onset lung problems have been increasingly recognized as being related to deployment in these two countries. Investigators, including our group, have identified asthmatic symptoms or pulmonary function test abnormalities.

The Social Security Administration is now compensating for Iraq and Afghanistan War-related lung disease. The Millennium Cohort Study identified 14% of all U.S. soldiers in Iraq with new-onset respiratory symptoms.”

Looking back, it was January 10, 2013, Public Law 112-260 was enacted requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish an open burn pit registry for Veterans who may have been exposed to burn pits in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In response, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) established the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR) for eligible Servicemembers and Veterans to report their deployment-related exposures.

The purpose of the registry is to identify and monitor potential health effects from exposure to airborne environmental hazards.

Registry participation is open to any Veteran or active-duty service member who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations after August 2, 1990, or in Afghanistan or Djibouti, Africa, after September 11, 2001.

Introduced in Senate (02/06/2017)

Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act

This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a center of excellence in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to burn pits and other environmental exposures in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The VA shall, in selecting the center’s site, consider entities that:

  • are equipped with the specialized equipment needed to study, diagnose, and treat health conditions relating to such exposure;
  • have a track record of publishing information on post-deployment health exposures among veterans who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom;
  • have access to animal models and in vitro models of dust immunology and lung injury consistent with the injuries of members of the Armed Forces who served in support of such operations; and
  • have expertise in allergy, immunology, and pulmonary diseases.

The VA shall ensure that the center collaborates with the Department of Defense (DOD), institutions of higher education, and other appropriate public and private entities to:

  • provide for dissemination within the VA of best practices for the treatment of such conditions and the training of health professionals,
  • provide guidance for the VA and DOD health systems in determining the personnel required to provide quality health care for members of the Armed Forces and veterans with such conditions,
  • establish, and oversee a program to train VA and DOD health professionals in the treatment of such conditions,
  • facilitate advancements in the study of the short-term and long-term effects of such exposure,
  • conduct basic science and translational research on such conditions for the purposes of understanding the etiology of such conditions and developing preventive interventions and new treatments, and provide medical treatment to veterans diagnosed with medical conditions specific to exposure to burn pits and other environmental exposures.

It is estimated that 3 million Veterans and active-duty service members are eligible to join the registry, yet only about 183,000 Veterans have signed up for the Burn Pit Registry, which the center shall have access to and make use of the data accumulated.

September 2018, President Trump signed the bill into law and was co-sponsored by Sen Amy Klobuchar, that was the first step toward researching the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, Yet, funding for the center is still needed and the location to be determined.

The provisions of this bill are based on the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, were included in the Senate and House passed Energy and Water Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act and would create a Center of Excellence in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) focused on researching the health effects associated with burn pits and treating veterans who become sick after exposure.

As a reminder, the registry is open to active-duty service members and most Veterans who deployed after 1990 to Southwest Asia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, and Africa, among other places.

Although Veterans, contractors and service members are encouraged to report exposures to airborne hazards they encountered while deployed to contingency operations in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, there is very little being done to heal the root causes of these tragic health issues affecting this nations generation of heroes.

Being “eligible” means soldiers and contractors get to volunteer data to enter into the VA database so they can continue to do whatever they are doing (which isn’t taking care of Veterans) affected by burn bit health issues.

The real question is, when are we going to start treating the root cause of these chemically-induced diseases instead of over medicating our valorous heroes.

We need to immediately implement Veterans treatments by means of holistic and innovative healing modalities, there are various alternative and state of the art energy practices, acupuncture, and herbal remedies.

It’s our hope that President Trump will step up the healing process for our Veterans, combating the ravages of burn pit damage which has become this military generation’s “Agent Orange.”

“Caring for Veterans shouldn’t be a partisan issue, it should be an American one.” ~ Jennifer Granholm

For Further Insight:

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Susan Price is a National Gold Star Mother and resides in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. The daughter of a Marine, and Army Veteran, She is also the Mother of a Fallen American Hero, Gunnery Sgt, Aaron Michael Kenefick, a highly decorated and stellar Marine of over twelve years. The tragic loss of Susan’s son and his Marine Embedded Training Team raised more questions than answers. It was through a Mother’s undying love that Susan transformed into an Investigative Researcher. Through her countless hours, days, weeks, and years connecting the dots, factual documentation, eyewitness accounts, and more, emerged a back story to the crimes that took place on the battlefield that fateful day of September 8th, 2009.

Susan is also known as a Veterans Advocate and a National voice. She has appeared on 60 Minutes and other national media as well as and Patriot radio. Having worked with various Congressmen concerning our Military and Veterans, she has been sought out by many as the “the Gold Star Mother with a voice” – and “go-to person.”

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