*Download Production-quality Video of Brown’s Questions at the Hearing HERE*
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing, “Toxic Exposure: Examining the VA’s Presumptive Disability Decision-Making Process” at the request of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Brown continues to advocate for Ohioans who have been harmed by environmental and other toxic exposures, including toxic burn pits and has introduced legislation, the Burn Pit Accountability Act to help study the effects of burn pits on servicemembers’ health. The Senate recently passed its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included an amendment based on Brown’s bill.
During the hearing, Brown pressed government officials to act on the National Academies report regarding Agent Orange related diseases, share air quality test results with outside experts, and establish a presumptive procedure to address exposure to toxic burn pits and any diseases associated with that exposure that harms veterans. The military relied on open-air burn pits to dispose of toxic waste in Afghanistan and Iraq, which exposed servicemembers to toxic chemicals and fumes that have been linked to certain deadly diseases.
“We have a responsibility to ensure our veterans have the care they need to address the dangers they face while serving this country,” said Brown. “Today’s hearing is a good first step toward addressing the unique health needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Congress needs to take concrete action to help Ohio veterans harmed by toxic burn pits, and I will continue fighting for solutions, including pushing for passage of the Burn Pit Accountability Act.”
Brown’s bill, the Burn Pit Accountability Act, would help Ohio veterans by:
- Requiring Department of Defense to evaluate servicemembers for toxic exposure during routine medical exams and directing the Department to share whether each servicemember was stationed near an open-air burn pit;
- Enrolling servicemembers exposed to toxic airborne chemicals or stationed near an open burn pit in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
Brown’s legislation would increase the requirements on the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to track and evaluate servicemembers’ health when they have been exposed to burn pits.
The Burn Pit Accountability Act is sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and supported by several veterans organizations, including: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Fleet Reserve Association, Military Officers Association of America, US Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Service Women’s Action Network, US Army Warrant Officer Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the US, The Retired Enlisted Association, Chief Warrant Officer Association- US Coast Guard, Air Force Sergeants Association, National Military Family Association, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Wounded Warrior Project, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMSUS, American Veterans (AMVETS), Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Air Force Women Officers Associated, Disabled American Veterans, and Association of the United States Navy.
Brown has long fought to secure benefits for veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals. Earlier this year, Brown (D-OH) praised the news that President Trump has signed legislation into law that will help ensure veterans who served in Vietnam’s territorial waters and were exposed to toxic Agent Orange chemicals during the Vietnam War receive the benefits they’ve earned. Earlier this year, Brown introduced the Senate companion legislation, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.
Brown is the longest-serving U.S. Senator from Ohio on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.