Burn Pit Bill Would Grant Automatic Care!
One of the most challenging parts of getting a claim approved by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is that most Veteran’s that are seeking out help cannot afford to wait – as their health and wellbeing are generally on the decline.
In an act to potentially optimize this process in a Veteran’s favor, both houses of Congress are working on and considering new legislation to effectively grant ‘presumptive’ status to any toxic exposure claims.
This would allow applicants to begin using VA services – the caveat being they’re still waiting on pending adjudication in the meantime.
Many reports have likened burn pit exposure to Agent Orange, a type of defoliant that has made Vietnam Veterans ill for decades – and, a large number of Veterans that were impacted are not in any way covered by the VA.
“The VA’s current model of ‘wait and see’ is not working.” – Rep. Elaine Lauria, Virginia.
Thankfully, this legislation has bipartisan support – where it’s lacking support however is from the VA itself. The VA website still does not link any known illnesses/diseases to burn pit exposure, according to former VA Secretary David Shulkin.
As of the time that this blog post was published, there are an estimated 3.75 million service members who’ve experienced this toxic exposure.
The legislation mentioned above would also work to prohibit the Department of Veteran’s Affairs from depending on research from NAS too much – research which would prove that any potential links between burn pits and future illnesses/diseases is false or lacking strength.
Another tough hurdle in the way of our nation’s bravest men & women is that any evidence of burn pit exposure needs to be presented to the VA – essentially, acting as provided proof/a paper trail of sorts. In addition to that, they must also present knowledge that the symptoms they are facing now came about during their time in the service.
The latter being the most difficult part as symptoms could take years to truly have manifested – and, to draw connections back to a particular deployment period, is certainly a difficult task.
“When the data’s not available, but appears to be plausible, the VA would give the Veteran immediate access to benefits and services.” – Former VA Secretary, David Shulkin.
I Served in Iraq/Afghanistan, What Risks Should I Be Looking For?
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is aware that anyone who served in Iraq/Afghanistan, under Operation Enduring Freedom, from October 7th, 2001 to the present day, was unfortunately at risk for being exposed to a multitude of hazardous conditions, including:
- Burn Pits: Troops were exposed to open-air waste disposal consisting of burning chemicals, paint, medical & human waste, munitions, petroleum, plastic, rubber, wood, and discarded food.
- Cold Injuries: Being in and around the mountain regions of Afghanistan caused troops to endure harsh winters with freezing temperatures, leading to hypothermia, frostbite, and other various cold-weather conditions.
- Depleted Uranium: The United States military used depleted uranium inside of any of their armor-piercing projectiles. The element itself is far less radioactive than traditional uranium but it is unfortunately just as toxic, and serious health problems can still result from internal exposure, inhalation, and/or ingestion.
- Mefloquine: This anti-malaria drug poses serious side-effects to many, including anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, muscle fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and/or lung problems.
- Noise: Hearing loss is a direct result of loud explosions, and can also play a major role in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Occupational Hazards: Working with heavy machinery, or industrial chemicals can lead to occupational illnesses.
- Rabies: This can be contracted through animal bites or contact with saliva from an already infected animal.
- Sand, Dust, and Particulates: Afghanistan’s southern region is primarily desert terrain and the inhalation of fine particulates is clearly unavoidable in every way.
- Toxic Embedded Fragments: Shrapnel that is contaminated with toxic embedded fragments can potentially push deadly chemicals into the bloodstream.
- Traumatic Brain Injury/Injuries: Explosions or projectiles can produce concussive force, and can also penetrate the skull destroying brain tissue, ruining cognitive impairment.
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