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For the millions of veterans who fell ill as a result of exposure to burn pits, the time has finally come for relief with the approval of a new bill to provide much-needed care.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 84 to 14 in favor of the Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Act, which fulfills our 2022 Comprehensive Toxic Substances (PACT) pledge. The bill, which passed with a majority vote, represents the most comprehensive healthcare reform for veterans. to date, the establishment of an alleged intercom for veterans who became seriously ill after inhaling noxious fumes that hung over their bases abroad, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The passage of our PACT Compliance Act is the culmination of years of struggle by veterans and their families to ensure that the US government provides adequate treatment for the serious illnesses that all service members develop after they return home from combat.
“You know, this is one of those days where you feel like all the hard work and the blood, sweat and tears they’ve put in over the years has finally paid off,” comedian and activist Jon Stewart said during a press release. -Conference on Capitol Hill after the final vote. “The real work on the administration of this bill is starting. It doesn’t solve anyone’s problems. It just takes away the burden of their struggle that should have been there in the first place.”
John Phil, who in addition to lobbying with Stewart on behalf of veterans, worked to get Washington to accept a 9/11 compensation fund, said our PACT Enforcement Act ensures that service members finally receive proper treatment for their illnesses. “It really never leaves anyone behind, and this $278 billion life-saving piece of legislation will help bring in the 3.5 million veterans who may have been affected by the burning pits. This is a historic event.”
Stewart first became involved in lobbying after meeting Rosie Torres, who co-founded the advocacy group Burn Pits 360 with her husband Leroy Torres over a decade ago after he returned from service during the Iraq War with multiple health problems due to his prolonged exposure to burn pits at its base in Balad.
“Today, the Senate voted to pass one of the most historic and monumental pieces of legislation we helped create. My family has lost 13 years away from our children. We missed birthdays, movie nights, school trips and priceless moments. we will never return.” Rosie Torres told Fox News about this. “Today it’s not just about passing legislation, but closing and honoring the living and the fallen.”
“Our leaders have finally recognized these injuries and illnesses as a direct result of armed conflict caused by a weapon of war.”
The Fox News Investigations Unit has reported extensively about veterans who fell ill after being thrown into incinerators. Many military personnel said the pits were a crude incineration method that burned all waste, including plastic, batteries, household appliances, medicines, dead animals, and even human waste. Items were often set on fire, using jet fuel as a booster.
More than 1,000 different chemical compounds were burned in the pits day and night. Most military personnel inhaled poisonous fumes without any protection.
The namesake of our PACT Honoring Law is just one of many who have become terminally ill as a result of their exposure.
Heath Robinson was thought to have contracted a rare autoimmune disease, mucosal pemphigoid, after he was exposed to burn pits during a 13-month tour of Iraq while serving in the Ohio National Guard. Although Robinson received help while still in the army, his wife Danielle Robinson and her mother Susan Zeyer have long defended other veterans.
Stewart mentioned their relentless lobbying for our PACT Enforcement Act during Thursday’s press conference.
“You epitomize perseverance and how you carried the banner of your family, your loved ones and their pain,” Stewart told Zeyer bluntly, holding back tears at Thursday’s press conference. “Here’s the thing, you know. Advocating is very nice, but doing it in your grief when you know it won’t help your loved one. But that’s not what matters to you. no one goes through what you went through. And it’s just the embodiment of grace.”
Our PACT Compliance Act is an important piece of legislation that will help more than 3 million veterans suffering from rare cancers, lung and other respiratory conditions. With current legislation, veterans who become ill or disabled due to exposure to a burn pit must, in most cases, establish a direct connection with the service in order to be eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, a task that is often difficult to accomplish.
BURN-PIT BILL PROVIDES VETERANS WITH HEALTH CARE TO OVERCOME THE ONGOING CRISIS
The new law removes the burden of proof from veterans by establishing an alleged official connection to their illnesses. Military personnel will only need to provide evidence of a deployment to one of the countries listed in the bill during the Gulf War or the global war on terrorism.
“Our servicemen and their families give everything for our country. And as a nation, we promise to take care of them when they get home. Finally, we deliver on that promise and pay them the price for our freedoms, our values, and our security.” This is stated in a statement by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), one of the bill’s key sponsors. “Today’s passage by the Senate of Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson’s bill in honor of our PDL Act is a huge victory for service members, veterans, and their families who have fought for years to get the health care and benefits they’ve earned.”
Once approved by the Senate, the bill will now return to the House of Representatives, which already voted for it back in March, before it goes to President Biden to sign into law.
“When young men and women make the decision to dedicate their lives to serving our country, they rightly expect their country to take care of them when they return home,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), key author of the bill. , Fox News said. “It took too long, but we never gave up on our veterans because they never gave up on our country. I hope the House of Representatives passes this bill quickly so that President Biden can finally sign it into law.”
During his State of the Union address this year, President Biden mentioned his support for the new legislation, as well as his son Beau, who he believes may have become ill from exposure to radiation after returning from military service in 2001.
BIDEN SIGNS TWO NEW LAWS TO HELP BURN PIT VETERANS
“They are [service members] many of the strongest and most trained warriors in the world are returning home, never to be repeated. Headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer that could put them in a flag-draped coffin,” Biden said during the March address. “One of those soldiers was my son, Major Beau Biden. I don’t know for sure if the burning pit he lived next to was his moonshine [barracks] was there in Iraq, and before that in Kosovo, is the cause of his brain cancer and the illness of so many other military personnel. But I’m determined to find out everything we can.”
While the Senate’s passage of our PACT Enforcement Act is a milestone, advocates say there is more work to be done to ensure that all veterans who become ill as a result of burn pit exposure receive the care they deserve.
“Activity at the grassroots level is over. But now they have to pass this bill, which is in its early stages, and watch it mature because this bill will help a lot of people,” Phil said. “These WSO [Veteran Service Organizations] will have to review this bill to make sure it is working properly and both men and women are being looked after in the VA. And that’s when the real work begins. That’s when you roll up your sleeves.”
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Rosie Torres says today’s vote brought a sense of relief after such a long fight for veterans’ rights.
“We have walked the halls of Congress for 13 years, feeling overwhelmed for many days by bureaucratic inertia and the delay and rejection system, but we never gave up.”