Press Releases

Our Veterans Are Still Suffering
By Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand
September 14, 2021
Newsweek
 
America's longest war may be over, but many veterans who answered the call to serve their nation are still suffering. Countless service members still endure harm from their exposure to toxic burn pits in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond. Their anguish—mental and physical—is real, and it is devastating for our service members and their families.
 
For far too long, the federal bureaucracy downplayed, slow-walked or outright ignored the science behind burn pit exposure. As a result, our veterans have been left without the critical care and support they deserve. ...
 
It is time to pass our Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act.
 

 
Army combat veteran Mark T. Jackson was deployed to Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan, where troops were sent just weeks after September 11. ... He described the burn pits that sent black smoke and soot into the air like malevolent snow that clung to service members' tents, clothes, skin and lungs. And he spoke about his comrades who went to war at the peak of fitness and are now sick, dying or lost to ALS, to heart disease, to glioblastoma. … 
 
This is not a new fight, of course. In many ways, it mirrors the fight to get health care coverage for police officers, firefighters and other first responders who raced into burning and falling buildings on September 11. ... It took years of fighting to pass legislation to provide our first responders with the health coverage they had more than earned. We can't let that history repeat itself in the fight to provide health coverage for the men and women who contributed to the effort to degrade al-Qaeda and hunt down Osama bin Laden.
 
Now is the time to do the right thing for our war fighters. This isn't a partisan issue. This isn't a budget issue. This is a moral issue. …
 
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