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Exposure to burn pits has put members and veterans of the United States military at risk. At some military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, burn pits are a common way to get rid of waste at military sites. Military burn pit exposure has been tied to numerous health problems. If you or a loved one has potentially been exposed to toxins in a U.S. military burn pit, you could be eligible for legal representation and compensation through a burn pit exposure lawsuit.
The term burn pit refers to the sites the United States military uses for open-air trash combustion in Iraq and Afghanistan. These large-scale burn pit operations are utilized to incinerate tons of pounds of waste every day. This waste includes, but is not limited to: chemicals, medical and human waste, batteries, plastics, metal and aluminum cans, petroleum and lubricant products, rubber, wood, food, and even dead animal remains. Large black plumes of smoke emitted from the pits reportedly hangover military bases. Members of the military exposed to the smoke from these pits have complained about similar medical problems following their exposure.
Military burn pit exposure has affected hundreds of veterans. Victims have brought forward disability claims that say exposure to these open-air burn pits has led to numerous respiratory, pulmonary, and neurological problems. Pressure from victims and their families has forced the Pentagon to restrict the use of burn pits while the Department of Veterans Affairs investigates the adverse effects.
Burn pit exposure could remain a problem today. In April of 2019, the U.S. Central Command reported that nine burn pits were currently creating toxic smoke. There are also a reported 13 burn pits with non-hazardous waste, and conditions could change if battlefield conditions are altered.
Military burn pit exposure can affect a person’s eyes, skin, gastrointestinal tract, internal organs, and respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Temporary irritation from toxins in burn pit smoke can include skin itches and rashes, eye itchiness and burning, difficulties breathing, and throat irritation and coughing.
Reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs have highlighted various conditions and illnesses experienced by military burn pit exposure victims. The most common health problems diagnosed by medical health professionals were insomnia and other neurological problems. The VA report showed additional commonly diagnosed health problems including allergies, high blood pressure, and lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.
The VA also reported that those who were repeatedly exposed to burn pit smoke, those who were in closer proximity to burn pits, and those exposed for long periods of time might be at a greater risk for health problems.
The VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry was created so eligible veterans and military personnel could document their health concerns and exposures to military burn pits. The registry is open to those who served in:
The registry aids VA research on exposure to airborne hazards while creating a database of those potentially affected. Enrollment in the Burn Pit Registry is free, and the questionnaire takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. As of December 2019, the registry questionnaire has been completed by 190,952 Veterans and service members.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs established Protected Veteran status in 1974 to ensure veterans are protected from discrimination based on their military service. This also means that if a veteran suffers a disability during his or her service, reasonable accommodations must be made to allow the veteran to work. The DOL states that all employers working with the federal government must comply with the regulations.
Protected Veteran status is based on four different areas. The Department of Labor classifieds protected veterans as Disabled Veteran, Recently Separated Veteran, Armed Forces Service Medal Veterans, and Other Protected Veterans. These are defined by the DOL below.
“A veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military and is entitled to disability compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to disability compensation) under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.”
“A veteran separated during the three-year period beginning on the date of the veteran’s discharge or release from active duty in the U.S. military.”
“A veteran who, while serving on active duty in the U.S. military, participated in a U.S. military operation that received an Armed Forces service medal.”
“A veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense.”
If you were a member of the United States Military exposed to burn pits in Operation Enduring Freedom / Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn; Djibouti, Africa on or after September 11, 2001; Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm; or Southwest Asia theater of operations on or after August 2, 1990, you might be eligible to participate in a military burn pit exposure lawsuit. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at TorHoerman Law today to discuss your possible toxic tort lawsuit. At TorHoerman Law, we offer free no-obligation case consultations for all potential military burn pit exposure lawsuit clients.
Hrala, Josh. “Protected Veteran Status: A Brief Guide.” Protected Veteran Status: A Brief Guide, blog.careerminds.com/protected-veteran.Military.com. “What Is The Burn Pit Registry?” Military.com, www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/what-burn-pit-registry.html.
“Report on Data from the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit (AH&OBP) Registry .” Department of Veterans Affairs , 2015, www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/exposures/va-ahobp-registry-data-report-june2015.pdf.
Risen, James. “Veterans Sound Alarm Over Burn-Pit Exposure.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Aug. 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/us/07burn.html.
“Thousands of Veterans Fear ‘Burn Pits’ Exposed Them to Lethal Disease.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 17 Aug. 2019, www.cbsnews.com/news/burn-pit-military-lung-disease-thousands-of-veterans-fear-burn-pits-exposed-them-to-lethal-disease-2019-08-17/.
US Department of Veterans Affairs, and Veterans Health Administration. “VA.gov: Veterans Affairs.” Protect Your Health, 27 Apr. 2015, www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/burnpits/registry.asp.
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