White House expanding health care for veterans exposed to burn pits

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The White House on Thursday marked Veterans Day by announcing expanded health care resources for individuals exposed to burn pits and other environmental hazards during their time in the military.

Assistance for those exposed to burn pits has been a personal issue for President Biden, who has on multiple occasions spoken about how he believes his son Beau Biden’s exposure to them may have been linked to the brain cancer that killed him in 2015.

The White House in a fact sheet outlined a series of steps being taken to aid those who have been exposed to burn pits or other contaminants while serving. The administration said the Department of Veterans Affairs would develop a testing model to better understand whether veterans have developed certain health problems as a result of exposure to environmental hazards.

In August, the VA began processing disability claims for asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis based on presumed exposure to particulate matter. Those who served in Southwest Asia and other areas who developed those conditions within 10 years of their service can now apply for disability benefits and VA provided health care.

The VA will also apply a new model to reviewing evidence of whether there is a connection between exposure to environmental hazards during military service and the development of respiratory cancers and constrictive bronchiolitis.

Among the other steps being taken includes efforts to raise awareness of VA benefits for veterans who have developed health risks or conditions related to exposure to burn pits or other hazards. The agency plans to host Q&A sessions about the new disability eligibility and release new public service announcements.

“The Administration will continue to prioritize efforts to support veterans who were exposed to environmental hazards during their military service,” the White House said. “At the same time, the Administration will work with Congress on its encouraging ongoing efforts to ensure we are able to quickly and fairly recognize additional presumptions of service-connected disabilities, in order to live up to our sacred obligation to provide veterans the care they have earned.”

Former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has been among the most vocal advocates in recent years in pushing for Congress and the VA to recognize health conditions developed after exposure to burn pits in the aftermath of 9/11.

Tags Burn pit burn pits Joe Biden Veterans Veterans Affairs Veterans Day Veterans Health Administration veterans health care

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