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VA offering compensation to veterans exposed to burn pits

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 11:24 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - The Department of Veterans Affairs is finally offering disability compensation for veterans who developed medical issues due to burn pits during deployments.

The burn pits contained trash, human waste, jet fuel, ammunition and other hazardous chemicals, all close by the where many service members worked and slept.

Army veteran Jeffrey Yarvis is all too familiar with the burn pits and their effects on soldiers later in life.

“You could basically look down at the burn pit from where you slept at night,” he said.

“It was so significant that we would often smoke cigars just to drown out the smell.”

The VA says depending on the illness and medical attention needed, veterans can receive anywhere from $130 to $3,400 a month in compensation.

They will no longer require nearly as much evidence that veterans normally must provide in order to receive benefits.

Through a registry program created in 2014, asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis are officially linked to the burn pits. The VA adds that more illnesses and various cancers could be revealed in the coming months as well.

“I thought they took immediate action to start getting data to see how many people were concerned about this and how they could have been affected,” Yarvis said.

“They were leaning forward on this and it was just a matter of waiting on the science.”

Meanwhile, Congress already proposed two bills automatically granting health care benefits to nearly 3.5 billion Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. While the VA refuses to take a public position on either bill, Yarvis is proud they’re stepping up to address the problem.

“The veterans made a commitment to put themselves in harms way without any complaint,” he said.

“So, when the time comes, and you find yourself suffering from these illnesses, I think it’s wonderful the VA recognizes their commitment to people like us.”

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