Press Releases

Burn-pit bill gives veterans healthcare to overcome ongoing crisis
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
May 27, 2022
Fox News

…While serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, millions of U.S. troops lived and worked in the vicinity of toxic burn pits…. Since their exposure, many…have developed permanent injuries and illnesses, ranging from chronic bronchitis to brain cancer…. There is little doubt these conditions are the result of inhaled toxins.

The government authorized the use of burn pits, so it is the government’s responsibility to care for the victims of toxic exposure. But instead of helping our veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has spent years denying them the care and benefits they need and deserve….

We refuse to stand by and let the VA neglect veterans in need. So last year, we introduced a bipartisan bill to fix the problem. Our Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act would force the VA to presume that soldiers who were exposed to burn pits in the line of duty and are now suffering from associated injuries and illnesses merit government care and benefits. 
 
That bill helped start a movement…to get justice for burn-pit victims. Finally, it looks like our mission may be nearing completion. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that contains the presumption enforcement from our 2021 bill. And now, the Senate is poised to do the same by passing the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act. 
 
When that bill becomes law, phased-in reforms will allow veterans to finally get treatment and benefits for 23 toxic exposure-related conditions. VA claim processing will also be streamlined, and more research on the health effects of toxic exposure will take place.

This victory cannot make up for the years veterans spent suffering without care. However, it is a victory nonetheless and one that Americans should be proud of…. We call on our colleagues in Congress to pass this legislation without delay.

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