U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines cosponsored legislation to help veterans who were exposed to toxins, specifically burn pits, while serving in the military. The bill, “Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act,” would lift a barrier that prevents veterans from receiving care from Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Many of Montana’s veterans suffer serious health complications after serving our country and it’s our duty to ensure they receive the care they need,” Daines said. “This bill requires the VA to take proactive steps to protect our Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans, to avoid repeating past mistakes.”
The “Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act” would:
- Acknowledge an information gap. Given the limited information that exists about exactly when and where burn pits were active, or the precise locations of individuals who served near them, it is unreasonable for a veteran to prove they were exposed to specific toxins from specific burn pits on specific days.
- Work in acknowledgment of ongoing research being conducted by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
- Formally recognize that veterans who served near burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations were exposed to airborne hazards, toxins and particulate matters. This recognition and concession can potentially aid thousands of veterans who otherwise do not have documentation of their exposure.
- Not automatically grant benefits or health care to veterans who served near a burn pit. It also does not create a presumption of service connection, like veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The decisions on presumption of service connection will require further scientific study and evidence, much of which is ongoing. Even with a concession of exposure, veterans will still need to provide sufficient evidence of a link to a specific illness or disease in order to qualify for VA benefits.
To read the bill text, click HERE.
The legislation is currently endorsed by Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), Wounded Warrior Project, and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).