WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he gets set to introduce legislation with U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to help veterans who have been harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits. The bicameral bill, the SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act, is named in honor of Heath Robinson, a central Ohio veteran who passed away earlier this month and was exposed to burn pits while deployed.

“This is a cost of going to war that we have to take responsibility for as a country. On the Vets committee we have a long history of putting party politics aside to work on behalf of the people who served this country, and I’m hopeful we can make progress on this bill, to 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.

“Heath may have died but his legacy will continue through his deeds and sacrifices.  He is a man who after fighting for his country in Iraq and returning safely from a war zone ended up fighting the battle of his life against the war that followed him home.  Heath is at peace knowing his resolve to help other burn pit veterans will continue and it's an honor to have the SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act named after him,” said Danielle Robinson, Heath’s widow.

Specifically, Brown’s bill 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. 

Last year, Brown secured the inclusion of the Burn Pit Accountability Act in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Trump. The Burn Pit Accountability Act requires the Department of Defense to evaluate servicemembers for toxic exposure during routine medical exams and enroll servicemembers exposed to toxic airborne chemicals, or stationed near an open burn pit, in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry to monitor and identify the harmful consequences of exposure to burn pits.

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