Veteran Benefits — Burn Pits are New Agent Orange?

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Vietnam veterans are still struggling with the impact of exposure to Agent Orange and can receive compensation (sometimes a high amount) for various health problems caused by Agent Orange exposure.

There is a fascinating post by Denise Williams entitled “Red Fridays — Burn Pits, the New Agent Orange” that we recommend you read.

This discusses a common practice in the past number of years in the Gulf War/War on Terror that may account for the high number of sometimes baffling diseases affecting our veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the instance of medical waste, at least at the joint Camp Leatherneck/Camp Bastion, there are incinerators but they are used only for operating room waste, according to a letter written by an Army captain to Military Times in June of this year. The captain states that all other waste, “including bloody bandages, medical supply waste and needles, were thrown into a burn pit less than 100 yards from (her) quarters.”

This is not only current common practice on bases all over Afghanistan, just as it was in Iraq, it is standard operating procedure. “Anything that can be moved into a Burn Pit is moved burned. If it doesn’t want to burn, we pour something on it, like jet fuel or anything we can get our hands on to make it burn” reported one soldier who served both in Iraq and Afghanistan. The thinking is, he explained, it is better than burying it, and a whole lot cheaper than trucking it out.

This is something to keep an eye out for and to report to the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense as soon as you have any concern about your exposure to this practice.

We’ll update this as we learn more about it and the response of the VA and DOD.

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