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Biden to Expand Assistance to Veterans Affected by Burn Pits

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Biden to Expand Assistance to Veterans Affected by Burn Pits

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In the midst of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, US Military installations routinely operated “burn pits,” locations for disposing of various wastes such as vehicles, electronics, and human waste which were then ignited with fuel. This somewhat improvised method of waste disposal released harmful particles into the air, and according to recent research, these particles are believed to be responsible for a range of health issues that veterans of those wars have experienced.

The Biden Administration has today revealed its plans to extend support to military veterans who were exposed to these harmful particles near the burn pits. This support includes less stringent requirements for proving their proximity to the burn pits, improved access to healthcare services, and the initiation of research projects to establish definitive links between the burn pits and health problems.

President Biden has a personal investment in this decision, as he attributes the development of cancer in his late son, Beau, while serving in Iraq to exposure to burn pit emissions. Speaking at a Service Employees International Union conference in 2019, Biden shared, “He chose to enlist in the National Guard at 32 because he felt a sense of duty to serve. And due to exposure to burn pits, in my opinion, although I don’t have concrete evidence yet, he returned with stage 4 glioblastoma.”

The Department of Veteran Affairs has long been advocating for this type of support, as noted by VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “For the past 30 years, I’ve viewed it as a failure of the US government that it’s only now, under President Biden, that we’ve taken initial steps to address some of these issues,” he remarked. “The primary challenge lies in establishing the scientific link between those chemicals and cancer. My legal obligation mandates a solid connection. That is the key challenge we face.”

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