WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced an amendment to the Senate’s FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to help veterans who have been harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits. The amendment is based on the Senators’ bipartisan bill, the SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act, which is named in honor of Heath Robinson, a central Ohio veteran who passed away in May and was exposed to burn pits while deployed.

“My office holds roundtables with veterans all over Ohio – we held more than a dozen last year alone. I’ve heard Ohio veterans raise this issue in these roundtables. This is a cost of going to war that we have to take responsibility for as a country. I’m hopeful we can get this amendment included in the NDAA and finally take steps to help connect the dots between exposure to burn pits and the illnesses that so many of our veterans have developed,” said Brown.

“We owe our servicemembers a great debt of gratitude for the safety and freedom we enjoy every day. It is our duty to stand by them and ensure transparency in the tracking of illnesses connected to their service, specifically burn pit exposure. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan measure requiring VA to submit regular reports on veterans exposed to burn pits. The reports will provide valuable data on patterns of medical diagnoses and associated disability claims so we can better understand the impact of burn pits exposure and hold VA accountable for the medical treatment and benefits to which veterans may be entitled,” said Portman.

Specifically, Brown and Portman’s amendment would:

  • Require VA to document a veteran who may have been exposed to burn pits and notify Congress of the case and several data points related to the veteran’s case and exposure to burn pits;
  • Require VA to submit a biannual report to Congress identifying how many veterans report burn pit exposure, how many make disability claims and what the outcome of those claims are, a comprehensive list of conditions reported by burn pit exposed veterans, and the location of burn pits; and
  • Require healthcare providers to inform a veteran who mentions “burn pits” about the existing Burn Pit Registry so they have knowledge of the Registry and can register themselves.