Brown Introduces Legislation to Help Ohio Veterans Harmed by Toxic Burn Pits

Burn Pit Exposure in Afghanistan, Iraq Linked to Serious Health Problems for Veterans; Senator Called On Veterans’ Affairs Committee to host Hearing on Toxic Exposure and Burn Pits in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation to help study the effects of burn pits on servicemembers’ health. The military relied on open-air burn pits to dispose of toxic waste in Afghanistan and Iraq, which exposed servicemembers and veterans to toxic chemicals and fumes that have been linked to certain deadly diseases. The 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. 

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 that will monitor and identify the harmful consequences of exposure to burn pits.  

Brown is introducing this bill and requesting that the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hold a hearing on toxic exposure in Washington, DC. 

“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. “This legislation is a first step toward addressing the unique health needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.” 

“This bill has the opportunity to show Americans that we learned from the mistakes we made with the handling of the presumptive claims Vietnam veterans have had to endure during the past several decades with Agent Orange. It’s designed to provide empirical evidence so this generation of veterans can get the services they need, instead of fighting the unnecessary bureaucracy other generations have faced,” said Art Davis, Ohio Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America member. 

The Burn Pit Accountability Act is sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and supported by several veterans organizations, including: 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. During Secretary Wilkie’s confirmation hearing in June, Brown secured a commitment from then-nominee Wilkie to work with his office regarding Agent Orange presumptive conditions, Blue Water Navy veterans’ eligibility for benefits, and establishing a process to diagnose constrictive bronchiolitis, a condition cause by burn pit exposure at VA.

Brown is the longest-serving U.S. Senator from Ohio on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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