FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 13, 2021
Washington, D.C — Today on Capitol Hill, IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler and EVP Tom Porter joined Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Reps. Raul Ruiz, M.D, (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), veterans advocate Jon Stewart, and 9/11 first responder advocate John Feal, and veteran service organizations to announce new legislation that will provide VA disability and health care benefits to veterans who have suffered toxic exposures while deployed.
The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act (S.952/H.R2371) establishes a direct service connection between veterans’ illnesses and toxic exposures. Approximately 3.5 million veterans were exposed to burn pits that spewed toxic fumes and carcinogens into the air. This groundbreaking legislation only requires that the veteran submit documentation that they received a campaign medal associated with the Global War on Terror or the Gulf War and that they suffer from a qualifying health condition.
“To underscore the breadth of this problem, 86% of respondents to our annual survey of post-9/11 veterans say they were exposed to burn pits and other toxins, and 89% of those say they are suffering related health symptoms,” said Porter at today’s event. “This is why we need to pass the Warfighter Act now.”
Millions of veterans were exposed to a wide range of dangerous substances, often unknowingly, during their deployments. From burn pits to radiation to chemically-laced IEDs and other toxins, these exposures have resulted in deaths and illnesses to a large and rapidly increasing number of veterans, yet the VA turns down nearly 80% of applications for disability benefits..
Congress must act to pass legislation bringing care to those who have earned it.
IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.