Jon Stewart lobbies bill providing care for veterans exposed to toxic materials
May 26 (UPI) – A pair of bills to extend Veterans Affairs health care to servicemen exposed to toxic substances in Iraq and Afghanistan were introduced by lawmakers on Wednesday.
The legislative package known as the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, or PACT Act, would provide health care and benefits to as many as 3.5 million veterans suspected of having been exposed to toxic materials from open air burns.
Former Daily show Host Jon Stewart, who has previously advocated for health care for 9/11 first responders, said Veterans Affairs inaction and skepticism about the cause of the illnesses have left many veterans without care.
“These individuals who volunteered to fight in these wars are now fighting their own government,” Stewart said at a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs found that nearly 16,000 claims made by veterans of recent wars included words such as “burn,” but about 60% were denied for reasons such as lack of medical diagnosis and lack of evidence linking health conditions to their service.
The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., Who introduced the bill, said: “It is clear that the VA process did not work.”
According to this measure, Veterans Affairs would assume that veterans were exposed to burns if they developed any of 23 cancers or respiratory illnesses after being deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries where US troops are housed. .
Reports have shown that a large fire pit in Iraq that has been in continuous use for years at one time burns 147 tons of garbage per day.
Stewart cited recent reports from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs listing illnesses that could affect service members due to burns.
“I just want to make sure everyone understands – it’s no surprise to the US government,” he said. “Attached to that list are all the different toxins that they knew everyone was exposed to in 2010. The EPA has internal documents – ‘that’s why we can’t burn pits in the United States, these are toxins, this is how it’s going to be. ‘”