Burn Pit Exposure, Jet Fuel in Lungs, Still No Benefits!

by | Apr 1, 2021 | News, Veteran's Benefits

Burn Pit Exposure, Jet Fuel in Lungs, Still No Benefits!

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Will Thompson was told by his doctor, Dr. Anthony Szema that his lungs were full of black spots and metal – with particles all over, completely scarred from breathing in waste burned in massive open-air burn pits during his time in Iraq.

Thompson, who is now on his second set of transplanted lungs, is just one example of over 3.5M Veterans since 2001 that have served in war zones that were used as trash disposals. Sadly, out of those millions of people – only roughly 234,000 have actually entered into the online burn pit registry created by the VA.

“I was denied my Army retirement because if it was not combat action, then I don’t receive that retirement,” said Thompson.

President Joe Biden’s son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 – he was deployed to two separate sites in Iraq that housed burn pits – one in Baghdad and another in Balad, coincidentally around the same time Thompson was stationed at Camp Striker near the Baghdad airport.

Numerous soldiers who’ve returned from overseas have reported illnesses but have never received the support one would think a Veteran deserves. With that said, many are hopeful that with Democrats expressing interest in rectifying this problem through new legislation, and a President who suspects burn pits are the root cause of his son’s death, that Veterans in this predicament will one day be able to get the help they so desperately deserve.

“Because of exposure to burn pits – he came back with stage 4 glioblstoma,” said President Joe Biden. 

Last year, the Wounded Warrior Project conducted a study of 28,000 Veterans, finding that 71% said they’d ‘definitely been exposed to toxic substances and/or hazardous chemicals. The worst part? Only 16% of those who suspected they’d been exposed actually got the help they needed from the VA – 11% said that they were denied treatment altogether.

“I am a warrior of the United States of America. I gave my lungs for my country,” said Thompson.

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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