Veterans in Indiana should know that an important change may be coming to the world of veterans’ benefits. Current regulations force people to prove that they were exposed to toxicity that caused an illness while serving. However, the VA may add burn pits and other toxic exposures to the list of presumptive illnesses. Presumptive illnesses are simply “presumed” to result from military service, so they’re automatically covered.
Activists behind the bill
One of the biggest supporters of the bill that would make this change is Jon Stewart, a big supporter of firefighters and other first responders who dealt with medical issues related to Sept. 11, 2001. Stewart believes that people who become ill due to exposures while serving their communities deserve to be taken care of. The bill’s sponsors include Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York.
The role of burn pits
Burn pits are used when soldiers are deployed overseas. Waste is disposed of by burning it. The VA readily accepts that burn pits can cause temporary irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract already. This bill would simply acknowledge that there can be longer-lasting effects as well. The Veterans Administration estimates that over the past two decades, as many as 3.5 million American service members have been exposed to the fumes from these pits.
Until now, it’s been easy for the VA to deny veterans’ benefits to people who were exposed to burn pits. This bill has the potential to change the outcome for those veterans. If you’ve had a problem accessing veterans’ benefits, you may benefit from contacting an experienced lawyer to help you file claims and any necessary appeals.