It has taken quite some time for the VA to recognize the adverse effects of exposure to Agent Orange. Now the VA is conducting studies to determine the health effects of exposure to the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The burn pits may very well become the new “Agent Orange” by taking some time to evaluate the veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the effects include heart and lung problems, cancer, digestive tract issues and many other health issues.

Iraq had at least three football-field size burn pits that burned continuously and caused the air quality to be very bad. Some of the people that worked near them developed a chronic cough that some service members called the “Iraqi Crud.”

The VA created the Institute of Medicine committee to study of health issues and the connection to burn pits. The IOM ultimately concluded that there is not enough evidence to prove toxic burn pit smoke harmed U.S. service members. However, the studies that the IOM relied on are arguably unreliable. The VA has been accused of stalling for time under the guise of scientific uncertainty. It is understandable that the VA has to have enough evidence of a nexus and new health issues.

The VA has established the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. Thousands have registered but very few have been awarded compensation for health-related issues. The VA insists that there is not enough evidence to conclude what health problems are related to the burn pits and poor air quality caused by the burn pits. Thus it would appear that the burn pits may become the new “Agent Orange.”

Richard Eckert

Veteran Service Officer

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