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TOMORROW: Rubio, Gillibrand, Ruiz, Veterans Advocates to Announce Landmark Burn Pits Legislation to Help Veterans
Washington, D.C. — TOMORROW, Tuesday, April 13th, at 12:45 PM: U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), veterans advocate Jon Stewart, U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz M.D. (D-CA), 9/11 responder and advocate John Feal, and an array of veterans groups will hold a press conference at the outside of the VFW to announce their landmark legislation, the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act. The bill would streamline the process for obtaining VA benefits for burn pit and other toxic exposures. Approximately 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits that spewed toxic fumes and carcinogens into the air.
The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act would remove the “burden of proof” from the veteran to provide enough evidence to establish a direct service connection between their health condition and exposure. Rather, the veteran would only need to submit documentation that they received a campaign medal associated with the Global War on Terror or the Gulf War and they suffer from a qualifying health condition. Campaign medals are awarded to members of the armed forces who deploy for military operations in a designated combat zone or geographical theater.
The event will be live streamed on Senator Gillibrand’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.
TOMORROW, Tuesday, April 13th
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D.
Tom Porter, Executive Vice President, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Le Roy Torres, CPT (Ret.), U.S. Army, Co-Founder of Burn Pits 360
Mark T. Jackson, Staff Sergeant (Ret.), 87th MP, U.S. Army, Board Chairman, Stronghold Freedom Foundation
Cindy Aman, SPC, Missouri Army National Guard
Gina Cancelino, Surviving spouse of Ret. GySgt Joseph Cancelino USMC, Burn Pits Advocate
Dr. Robert Miller, Professor of Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Kristina Keenan, Associate director, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Dan Brewer, Lt. Col. (Ret.), U.S. Army, former environmental officer
VFW Building (press conference will be held outside)
200 Maryland Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
ANY outlet that plans to participate must RSVP to the Gillibrand Press Office at email@example.com with their outlet and best contact number.
About the advocates:
Le Roy Torres: Army Captain Le Roy Torres was deployed to Balad, Iraq from 2007-2008 and served the State of Texas as a State Trooper for 14 years. He suffers from complications from illnesses caused by toxic burn pit exposure during his deployment. After experiencing delay, denial of benefits, and ineffective treatment from his physicians, Le Roy alongside his wife, Rosie, founded Burn Pits 360. The organization works to ensure that no other service member or Veteran suffers delay, denial of benefits, and ineffective treatment for toxic fume exposure from physicians.
Gina Cancelino: Surviving spouse of Ret. Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Cancelino USMC, who served as a Marine for 20 years. Joseph was deployed to Iraq from March 2003-August 2003. His barracks were located across from a burn pit and barrels of burning human waste. While serving his final year in the Marines, he joined the NYPD and served as a PO until his promotion to Sergeant. In January 2017 he was diagnosed with stage 3c metastatic testicular cancer, which at the time of diagnosis had travelled to his pelvis, abdomen, and lungs. The cancer then progressed to his brain. While receiving treatment, it was discovered that there was a secondary thyroid cancer as well. Despite several rounds and types of chemotherapy, radiation, lymph node resection, brain resection, immunotherapy, palliative chemotherapy, and a trial treatment that he was only the fourth patient to receive, Joseph passed away in July 2019. His surviving spouse, Gina, can no longer add Joseph’s name to the DoD burn pit registry since he has passed away. Most recently she was been denied VA disability benefits for herself and two children, until she proves that her husband’s cancer was a direct service connection to burn pits and toxic exposure while serving in Iraq.
Mark Jackson: Veteran Mark Jackson was active duty in the Army from 1997 through 2005. He was deployed to Karshi-Khanabad (K2) Air Base in Uzbekistan from July 2003 to April 2004, where uranium, chemical weapon debris, and chemical ponds were present, and black goo oozed from the ground. While deployed, Jackson’s health quickly deteriorated and, as his health worsened when he returned home, he sought help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In 2008, the VA granted only 10% disability for service related to his thyroid disorder and denied the rest of his claims. Since then, he has advocated for care from the VA for other service members suffering from diseases related to toxic exposure.
Cindy Aman: Cindy Aman served as Military Police in Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Upon returning home, began work as civilian police, but started having shortness of breath despite being very fit. When she sought help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), some caseworkers thought she had lung disease, but the head of pathology didn’t agree. She reached out to Senator Coons (who she now works for) and he helped get the VA to pay for a lung biopsy. When her biopsy showed metals in her lungs and brown gunk she had to leave the police force. After two years, Aman eventually received some benefits from the VA. She is now an advocate for the family of veteran Jason Howard who is on hospice with glioblastoma — the same brain cancer that Beau Biden had.