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Victims of burn pit areas during military service could get help from new legislation

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Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 11:11 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - President Biden says new legislation could expand benefits for veterans who suffer residual effects of burn pits while serving overseas.

Centers like Veterans Resource in Longview and Camp V in Tyler regularly help veterans with illnesses or chronic conditions caused by their service overseas.

“Did they serve during Vietnam era, did they serve during Desert Storm era? You have those presumptive diseases associated with when they were in the military as well as where they were,” says Camp V director Travis Gladhill.

President Biden has focused on veterans who fell ill after breathing in toxic materials from burning waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There are some presumptive diseases as it stands right now with the burn pits, such as chronic respiratory conditions and asthma. The veteran has to prove those diseases occurred within ten years of being exposed to the burn pit,” Gladhill says.

Gladhill, himself an air force veteran, is keenly aware of exposure to toxic elements while in service.

“We already have the science, we already have the data as to what burn pits can do. I’ve been exposed to burn pits myself and I can tell you I have issues that are directly related to that,” he says.

Similar to the effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam veterans, the president says Iraq and Afghanistan veterans deserve a similar level of support, and called for expansion of health benefits for veterans.

“The burden of proof is on the veteran themselves. You have to prove to the VA that you were there. We help them gather all that evidence and submit it to the VA,” says Gladhill.

A bipartisan supported bill passed in the house last week. The bill would expand disability benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances and classify more health problems as related to burn pit exposure.

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