WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) cosponsored the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act, bipartisan legislation reintroduced by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to formally recognize that certain veterans were exposed to burn pits during their service in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, which would make it easier for them to access U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits for illnesses and diseases related to exposure to burn pits.
“Veterans who bravely served in the Middle East or Afghanistan and were exposed to open air burn pits must be able to access the treatment that they need without having to go through unnecessary hurdles,” Senator Hassan said. “I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill that will take steps forward in helping veterans in need of health care due to exposure to burn pits, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in supporting this important legislation.”
Given the limited information that exists about exactly when and where burn pits were active, or the precise locations of individuals who served near them, it is unreasonable for a veteran to prove they were exposed to specific toxins from specific burn pits on specific days in order to access the VA benefits that they have earned. The Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act would formally recognize that veterans who served near burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations were exposed to airborne hazards, toxins and particulate matters. This recognition and concession can potentially aid thousands of veterans who otherwise do not have documentation of their exposure.
Senator Hassan is working to ensure that veterans exposed to toxins in the line of duty receive the health care that they need. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a measure that Senator Hassan supported to ensure that Vietnam War veterans can more easily access care for additional diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure. Additionally, Senator Hassan cosponsored legislation that was included in the final veterans package that was signed into law last Congress to direct the VA to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to assess possible health conditions linked to service members' exposure to toxic substances at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (K2) in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, in 2019, Senator Hassan joined colleagues in reintroducing the bipartisan Burn Pits Accountability Act to examine the health effects of exposure to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals on service members and veterans.