This morning, Congressman Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) will be joined by veterans and veterans' advocates on Capitol Hill, including IAVA and DAV, for a press conference to discuss burn pit exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bishop recently introduced the Military War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act (H.R. 2491), which would commission a database and subsequent study by the Department of Defense to monitor troops' exposure and resultant health problems, along with new regulations on waste disposal in the combat zone, prohibiting the U.S. military and its contractors from activating new burn pits.
In the last year, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have brought the burn pit issue to light after many have discovered persistent health problems associated with exposure to chemicals given off by burn pits in their areas of operations.
Military Times reported this morning that the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center has published increasingly high mortality rates for respiratory and chest conditions among troops deployed from 2001-2008. The report also demonstrated nearly twice as many instances of tumors (benign and malignant) among the same group.
"It is important for the Pentagon to identify and track troops who may have been exposed to these dangerous toxins, and then ensure new pits don't pop up across the combat zone," said AMVETS Legislative Director Ray Kelley who recently served in Iraq. "Since so many troops have separated from the military since 2001, it will be a daunting task to track down everyone who may have been exposed, or may be suffering from related health conditions. As this legislation moves forward, we hope both Secretary of Defense Gates and VA Secretary Shinseki will do everything in their power to ensure no post-9/11 veterans fall through the cracks."
Check back with American Veteran Online for more details on today's press conference and H.R. 2419, as it moves through committee.