orham cam via shutterstock
The Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (orham cam via shutterstock)

Representative Elizabeth Esty was thrilled to see President Donald Trump recently sign into law an appropriations bill that included a measure she has been seeking to help veterans suffering from medical complications due to exposure to toxic burn pits while in the military.

“Our military men and women deserve acknowledgement and study of the health impact of burn pits. And, most importantly, our veterans deserve care for any harm they endured in service to our nation,” she said.

Burn pits are areas on military bases where waste is incinerated and toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere. Smoke from these open-air burn pits can waft throughout the entire base and even into living areas. Health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits can include cancer, neurological and reproductive effects, respiratory toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity, Esty said.

The bill provides $5 million specifically for burns pit research to provide an assessment of the process for informing veterans through VA and community care providers about the Airborne Hazards and Open Bum Pit Registry and their eligibility for registering.

The VA will also establish a burn pit resource center to provide an objective and comprehensive assessment of veterans’ cardiopulmonary function, military and non-military exposures, and health-related symptoms for those with airborne hazard concerns.

“I’ve heard from veterans throughout Connecticut who are suffering — or know other service members suffering — from serious health complications that were likely caused by burn pits,” Esty said. “The courageous men and women of our military who endure toxic exposure and risk their long-term health on our nation’s behalf deserve the very best health care.”