On Dec. 9, VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced that the VA will make a decision in early 2022 on whether or not some cancers and a rare lung disorder seen by Veterans exposed to burn pits will be deemed connected to military service.
On Veterans Day, the Biden Administration directed the VA to complete a review of rare cancers and provide recommendations within 90 days about whether more conditions or diseases can be labeled as having a possible military service connection. According to McDonough, Veterans can expect a decision on the following conditions by summer 2022:
- Constrictive bronchiolitis
- Lung cancer
- Rare respiratory cancer (such as squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx or trachea and salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea.)
In August 2021, the VA designated asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis as illnesses based on burn pit and air pollution exposure. Veterans with these afflictions are now eligible for disability pay and health care.
The long fight for burn pit illness recognition
Veterans who served in early 1990s foreign conflicts have long been fighting for the VA to recognize injuries related to burn pits. These men and women who served should be entitled to medical care and disability compensation from the VA for injuries related to burn pits. The VA estimates that at least 3.5 million Veterans were exposed to burn pits, however, 75% of them are rejected for health care and disability compensation. Veterans Affairs has long maintained that the science is unclear on the link between cancer and respiratory illnesses from breathing in burning garbage of anything that ranged from jet fuel to human feces.
The urgency to pressure the VA to hear the voices of Veterans who have long attributed their chronic health conditions and illnesses to burn pits has picked up steam thanks to widespread public outrage over the treatment of America’s Veterans. Over the past year, a registry has been created and the White House has directed the VA to look deeper into the science of potential health conditions caused by burn pits.
Veterans who believe their health conditions were the result of burn pits can find out more information about the Burn Pit Registry on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website: https://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home
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The Veteran Legal Assistance Program is here to support Veterans and Active-Duty service members. In addition to offering valuable information, we are here to amplify the voices of Veterans and their families. If you are in need of assistance, contact the Veterans Legal Assistance Program and let us know how we can help.
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