The recently passed PACT Act, which expands healthcare and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances, is long overdue.
As someone who was closely involved with the Department of Defense’s Wounded Warrior Program for nearly fifteen years, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that burn pits have had on our veterans.
Medical research has linked exposure to emissions from burn pits—sites for burning waste on military bases—and a greater likelihood of developing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. But while working as the Air Force’s primary advocate for Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, I was approached by many veterans seeking help with undiagnosed illnesses they attributed to burn pits and oil fires in Iraq.
These veterans were frustrated. They felt that no one believed them or understood what they were experiencing. They didn’t know how to prove that their illnesses were caused by toxic exposures.
The PACT Act is a victory for these veterans and their families, and I was ecstatic about the bill’s passage in early August.
At the same time, I was dismayed that partisan gamesmanship had to rear its ugly head before the bill went through: twenty-five Republican senators who indicated their support for the bill a month prior decided to vote against it at the last minute.
Read the full article here.