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Gillibrand voices support for veterans exposed to burn pits

(WCAX)
Published: Nov. 26, 2019 at 4:30 PM EST
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is getting behind legislation that would make exposure to burn pits in war zones a disability, allowing returning veterans to get help.

The burn pits are massive, open-air trash fires burning all day and all night, with soldiers breathing in the smoke that hung over the bases. In those pits, everything was burned: trash, medical waste, body parts, human waste, metals, and tires. There are no landfills and no infrastructure to deal with waste in the middle of makeshift cities in war zones. It's gone on for years with thousands of U.S. military members exposed.

A WCAX News investigation revealed that many Vermonters got sick and some died from exposure.

"Men and women were asked to man the burn pits, to burn everything and the function of burning things as diverse as technical equipment to garbage to other waste from a military base meant that many of our military members, our military inhaled serious toxins not dissimilar from the type of inhalation that happened at Ground Zero," said Gillibrand, D-New York.

There are now several bills under consideration in Congress to deal with burn pit exposure. Gillibrand said she would pursue legislation to make sure people affected by chemicals and toxins released in burn pits can get the benefits and health care that they are owed.

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