- C. Jenkins
VA Pushes Million of Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits to File Claims
Andrew Myatt was deployed to Iraq after 9/11, and like many other veterans, when he returned home he struggled to receive the healthcare he deserves. After putting his life on the line in the Army and being late diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, the last thing he needed was to be denied coverage three times through the VA. Yet, this is the reality of so many veterans who were unknowingly exposed to toxins in open-air burn pits while deployed. Until the PACT Act was signed, many vets were unable to prove to the VA that their illnesses were linked to burn pit exposure. The law now takes that burden off of veterans and automatically connects sicknesses such as asthma and various cancers to exposure.
The VA has estimated four million veterans were exposed to burn pits in the last 30 years, yet only 66,000 of those claimed benefits and 1.4 million have been screened for toxic exposure since the legislation was signed.
Now months after the PACT Act was passed, VA Secretary McDonough is sending a message to veterans and urging those who may have been affected to file claims with the VA immediately.
Myatt said it is disheartening that so many members of the service have been exposed needlessly and have likely passed away due to this exposure. Shockingly, the Defense Department has yet to adopt policies banning open-air burn pits and it is tracking six of them in U.S. personnel countries.
While acknowledging the progress made by the PACT Act, Myatt was finally approved for coverage through the VA after the fourth claim was filed and his cancer was deemed a result of his deployments. Lastly, the VA is working on determining facility needs to provide care to potentially millions of more patients.
Burn pits are an issue that still needs to be addressed and as an important issue had brought to light, as well as the potential health risks to veterans. Thankfully, after years of denials, the government finally signed the PACT Act and it provides hope to veterans who are unsure of receiving coverage and being linked to the terrible toxins they were exposed to.
If you are a veteran and believe you have experienced negative health issues as a result of burn pit exposure, you can file a claim at VA.gov/PACT.