House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Burn Pits
House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Held Hearing on Health Impacts of Burn Pits on Veterans
On June 7, 2018, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health held its first hearing on how exposure to burn pits is impacting the health of veterans, and how VA plans to address the issue. Although we were not invited to testify, Burn Pits 360 attended the hearing and was on site lobbying lawmakers the day of the hearing as well as the days leading up to it.
As many know, burn pits have caused severe health problems in many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and VA has been slow to conduct research into the problem or provide exposed veterans the specialized care that they need. At the hearing, VA's chief consultant for post-deployment health, Ralph Erickson, told members of the committee that VA is currently working on six studies regarding the issue of burn pits and veterans' health, as well as working to expand the VA Burn Pits Registry to collect more data on veterans' post-deployment health.
However, many advocates, veterans, and committee members expressed concern that the studies would not be finished soon enough to help veterans with grave health conditions. While veterans and advocates are pushing VA to recognize the link between burn pits and certain illnesses, VA has stated that they do not yet have sufficient evidence.
Burn Pits 360 Holds Press Conference with Lawmakers
Prior to the hearing on June 7th, Burn Pits 360 held a joint press conference with Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to discuss the issue of burn pits and how Congress can act to help veterans who were exposed. Burn Pits 360 Founder Le Roy Torres spoke of the health issues he experiences due to burn pit exposure and how they have impacted his life post-deployment.
Army Staff Sergeant Will Thompson spoke during the press conference of the respiratory issues he has faced since his return from service. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis when he returned from his deployment in Iraq, and has since had two double-lung transplants.
Susan Zeier also spoke at the press conference on her son-in-law's cancer diagnosis and how they believe it is due to his exposure to burn pits in service.
Burn Pits Accountability Act Introduced to Congress
Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Brian Mast (R-FL) have introduced new legislation called the Burn Pits Accountability Act that would require VA to monitor service member's health in-depth, and require VA and DoD to share information about service members exposed to burn pits with each other.
Burn Pits 360's Legislative Asks
The Congressional hearing on June 7th was the first step in a long journey to getting our veterans the specialized care and recognition of their conditions caused by burn pits. Burn Pits 360 has four legislative asks in order to keep up the momentum on this issue:
1. That VA grant a presumptive category for constrictive bronchiolitits. 2. That veterans exposed to burn pits get specialized care and compensation. 3. That the Department of Defense (DoD) recognize constrictive bronchiolitis as a disability based on an injury or disease received in the line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a war period as defined by law. 4. We request that a hearing be scheduled to include the participation of medical experts and veterans.
Take Action to Prove the Connection Between Burn Pit Exposure and Illness by Participating in the Burn Pits 360 Registry Research Study The Burn Pits 360 Registry is a research study, collecting data on burn pit exposures and related illnesses. The goal is to prove the connection between burn pit exposure and illness. Before now, this information was only available to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. So far, over 5,000 individuals have participated. Your data will enable Burn Pits 360 to advocate and lobby on behalf of the veteran community for VA benefits, policy change, and specialized health care. To participate, visit us on our website here.
Burn Pits 360 Welcomes Dr. Daniel Brewer and SFC Geoff Dardia to Advisory Board Burn Pits 360 welcomed two new members to the Advisory Board this month: Dr. Daniel Brewer and Sergeant First Class Geoff Dardia.
Dr. Daniel Brewer is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with 34 years of military service. Among his military awards are the Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Senior Army Aviator Wings, and Combat Actionbadge among many others. While in the military, he worked to recover Desert Storm era military equipment in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, including depleted uranium munitions and debris. He also worked on environmental guidance and practice management for US bases.
SFC Geoff Dardia served in the United States Navy, US Army Reserves, and the US Army. He served over 10 years on a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) as a Senior Weapons Sergeant, then later as a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant, Static Line Jumpmaster, and DiveSupervisor. He had four combat deployments to Afghanistan and two overseas deployments to Jordan and Chad. After his military service, SFC Dardia created the Special Operations Forces Health Initiatives Program (SHIP) for the Task Force Dagger Foundation in 2012.
Burn Pits 360 Honors a Soldier Each month, Burn Pits 360 honors a fallen solider. Staff Sergeant Jennifer Kepner served in the US Air Force as a medic from 2001 to 2007. At age 39, she lost her life to pancreatic cancer as a result of exposure to burn pits during her service in Balad, Iraq.
Legal Help for Veterans
Disability Benefits: If VA has denied your disability compensation claim, assigned you the wrong impairment rating, or if you are entitled to an earlier effective date, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for assistance. CCK is also experienced at helping eligible veterans get VA benefits for special monthly compensation (SMC) or total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU). Contact CCK toll free at 844-291-8569 or visit CCK online athttps://cck-law.com.
Donate to Burn Pits 360
Burn Pits 360 Needs You! The success of our mission depends on the generosity of individuals like you. We ask you to consider a monthly donation to help us advocate for our community and its needs.
Burn Pits 360 is community of veterans with burn pit-related illness, their families, and advocates with the common goal of exposing the harms of toxic burn pit exposure and obtaining benefits and policy change. Join us. Like us on Facebook!
Meet the Burn Pits 360 Team
Founder: CPT (Ret.) Le Roy Torres Executive Director: Rosie Torres Secretary: Tammy McCracken Program Manager: Will Wisner Legislative Liaison: Cindy Aman Director of Development:Daniella Molina
Advisory Board Ret. Colonel David Sutherland Dr. Steven Coughlin Ret. Lt. Col. Gregg Deeb Dr. Robert Miller Ret. Lt. Col. Brian Lawler Kerry Baker Solomon Ortiz Jr., former Texas House of Representatives, District 33 Solomon Ortiz Sr., former Congressman for the 27th District of Texas SFC Geoffrey Dardia Dr. Daniel Brewer