Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Burn Pit Toxic Exposure Research Act Introduced

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), along with U.S. Representatives Dan Benishek, M.D. (R-Mich.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.), introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation focused on supporting the research of health conditions faced by descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxins during their military service. The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 (S. 901) – which is supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), AMVETS, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Rolling Thunder – would establish a national center at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the descendants of individuals exposed to toxic substances during their time in service. These include Agent Orange in Vietnam, Gulf War neurotoxins, Iraq and Afghanistan chemical weapons and burn pits as well as other chemicals and toxins.

“The Toxic Exposure Research Act is about addressing the painful, residual wounds of war that may impact a service member’s family long after the military operation is over – wounds that may not be evident until decades later when passed on to children and generations to follow,” said Sen. Moran. “This bipartisan legislation is a necessary step toward making certain our military men and women and their descendants will be properly cared for in the future. We must keep our promise to our veterans and their families, who have made great sacrifices for the sake of our country’s security and our freedom.”

“When servicemembers raise their right hand, they willingly risk life and limb to defend their country. However, few probably ever contemplate that this noble action would have serious and sometimes grave consequences for their children and grandchildren,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “These children and grandchildren did not sign up, but they may bear the wounds of war. Declassifying documents and disclosure are critical and the least the government owes our veterans so they can better understand the impact these indirect exposures have to guarantee their children and grandchildren receive appropriate treatment. The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 will ensure this. We as a nation have just as much of a responsibility to the families as to those who actually wear the uniform.”

“Having served veterans as a surgeon at the Iron Mountain VA for over 20 years, I have seen far too many patients who suffer from unexplained, service connected ailments,” said Dr. Benishek. “These conditions can even be passed down to their children. We owe it to our vets to find answers to illnesses caused by toxic exposure, and this bill will be a strong start to that process.”

“Medical and scientific studies have shown that there are long term negative effects not only on the soldiers who served, but also in their children, their grandchildren, and subsequent generations,” Congressman Honda said. “Many suffer from various forms of birth defects. It is time for us to take care of not just those who served, but also their children, whose diseases can be linked to their parent’s exposure to toxins. This is about the sacred pact with members of our military: if you serve our country in uniform, we will look after your family during your service to this country and after.”

The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 would also authorize the Department of Defense to declassify certain incidents of exposure of members of the armed forces to toxic substances. Additionally the bill would create a national outreach campaign on potential long-term health effects of exposure to toxic substances by members of the Armed Forces and their descendants.

“The information identified by the Institute of Medicine, as a result of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, regarding the negative impact on the health of Vietnam veterans resulted in a long list of ailments approved as ‘presumptive’ diseases by the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs,” said VVA National President John Rowan. “Many Vietnam veterans have already succumbed to these ailments and more will in the future. While we are concerned, we understand that we raised our right hands and agreed to serve our country in a time of war. Our progeny did not. It is dismaying that it is possibility that these diseases have carried over to our children and grand-children. The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 will hopefully enable us to determine how long these health problems will continue to haunt our families"

“The American Legion believes in treating the veteran first, funding the necessary research, and ensuring that servicemembers are not exposed to chemical hazards again,” said Ian de Planque, American Legion Legislative Director. “This legislation would help address the need to better understand the toxins that many veterans have been exposed to, and enhance the understanding that the effect of exposure may have on veterans’ descendants.”

“All too often, we have failed to extend the proper recognition to veterans and their descendants for debilitating health conditions they suffer from, due to the veterans exposure to toxic substances,” said Aleks Morosky, Deputy Director of National Legislative Service for VFW. “This bill would begin to address that issue by directing VA to properly study all those affected by service-related toxic exposure, and the VFW thanks Senator Moran for bringing it forward.”

Many of the symptoms from toxic exposure are frequently misdiagnosed in descendants of veterans due to a lack of understanding and scientific proof. However, veterans have observed increased levels of cancers, birth defects and other conditions in their subsequent generations. The evidence of these wounds of war afflicting the children and grandchildren of service members exposed to toxins is growing and research is warranted to collect data and study this issue. The goal of this medical research is to determine the conditions that result from debilitating toxins and hopefully lead to the appropriate support and benefits veterans and family members deserve.

Click here to read the full text of S. 901, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. 

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Human Cost of the Military’s Toxic Burn Pits

Today's post is shared from medium.com and is authored by Matthew Gault.

Jason Dawson joined the Marines in 2003 and went to Iraq in 2006. He deployed to Al Asad air base in Anbar province where he was part of a crash, fire and rescue team.

When his tour finished, he stayed and became a civilian contractor—a firefighter.

He liked the pay and the work, but he didn’t like the burn pits. Al Asad maintained a large, open-air ditch filled with burning garbage. It’s how the base disposed of all its waste.


“Some mornings I remember waking up … and I could smell the burn pits,” he says.

Dawson stayed in Al Asad for three years, and the whole time he dealt with toxic fumes. Since coming home, he’s developed several mysterious health problems doctors can’t seem to diagnose.

Dawson—who is a personal friend—is not alone. Thousands of returning soldiers and civilians reported various health problems after coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many suspect prolonged exposure to the burn pits are the cause.

What didn’t help is that the military’s efforts to clean up the burn pits were half-hearted at best, and negligent at worst. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

In the report, the congressionally-mandated watchdog details taxpayer cash wasted trying to close the Pentagon’s burn pits.

But worse than the monetary waste is how...

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Indefensible" - More than $20 million for military incinerators up in smoke

"This report highlights the ways in which incinerator operations in Afghanistan were not conducted in a manner that resulted in the most efficient use of U.S. taxpayer funds. Unfortunately, in many instances DOD officials did not take sufficient steps to ensure the proper management of contracts for the construction of the incinerators to address the problems identified during our inspections of particular incinerator facilities. Given the fact that DOD has been aware for many years of the significant health risks associated with open-air burn pits, it is indefensible that U.S. military personnel, who are already at risk of serious injury and death when fighting the enemy, were put at further risk from the potentially harmful emissions from the use of open-air burn pits. " Quote from SIGAR Report

Today's blog post is shared from http://america.aljazeera.com/

Every day, U.S. troops stationed at military bases accumulate waste: from Styrofoam packaging, to batteries and used equipment. Despite health warnings, U.S. bases in Afghanistan have been using open-air burn pits to dispose of all this litter.


By 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) began using other methods, including installing incinerators at some of the military bases. In its latest report on U.S. government spending in Afghanistan, a government watchdog has found that the U.S. military spent over $80 million on incinerators, but at least $20 million of that money was wasted because four bases never used the machines.

The Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction [SIGAR] reported Thursday that 23 incinerators were built at nine U.S. military bases across Afghanistan since 2011 at a cost of $81.9 million.

The incinerators, along with landfill operations, were meant to replace the open-air burn pits, but because of inadequate planning, design and construction, four installations costing $20.1 million were never operational.
The DOD paid the contractors for all the incinerators in full.


One forward-operating base installed two incinerators that were meant to work 24 hours a day, SIGAR noted. But the base was in a “blackout” area, meaning it couldn't operate anything at night so as not to attract rocket fire. The designation limited the base’s ability to incinerate waste to 60 percent of its daily production.

"Further, given the...

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

US Supreme Court Allows Burn Pit Disease Lawsuit to Go Forward

The US Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of KBR.  Therefore, the case will remain active and will return to the US District Court for further action.

The case is a consolidated action under Federal Multi-District Litigation against government contractors Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) and Halliburton for alleged harm to military personnel & other individuals caused by exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan that were used to dispose of material including medical waste, plastics, paints and pesticides.


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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  has been representing burn pit victims and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Click here to contact us.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

US Supreme Court Conferenced Burn Pit Case

The US Supreme is scheduled to conference the burn pit litigation case pending against KBR and others for alleged negligence in operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of US military and civilian employee claim medical injuries following from the exposures to dust and fumes and other pollution caused by their operation. 


The Petition for review, filed by KBR, was conferenced by the Court in private session on January 16, 2015. 

The following is an issue analysis shared from scotusblog.com/

13-1241 KBR, Incorporated v. Metzgar

(1) Whether the political question doctrine bars state-law tort claims against a battlefield support contractor operating in an active war zone when adjudication of those claims would necessarily require examining sensitive military judgments;

(2) whether the Federal Tort Claim Act's “combatant-activities exception,” 28 U.S.C. § 2680(j), preempts state-law tort claims against a battlefield support contractor that arise out of the U.S. military's combatant activities in a theater of combat; and

(3) whether the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity bars state-law tort claims against a private contractor performing delegated public functions where the government would be immune from suit if it performed the same functions.

CVSG: 12/16/2014.

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kansas veteran worries exposure to hazardous fumes cause of health problems

Returning veteran's who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have become increasingly concerned over the exposure to environmental pollution that they may have been exposed as a result of the use of burn pits.  Today's post is shared from khi.org/

Four months ago, U.S. Army veteran Brandon Garrison played in an all-day softball tournament, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“The tournament was on a Saturday,” Garrison said. “The next day I woke up and I couldn’t walk.”

Garrison, a 28-year-old from Leavenworth, experienced debilitating muscle pain for several days and was hospitalized at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility. He left with a cane that he was still using last month.

After multiple wartime deployments to Afghanistan as an infantryman and a supply specialist, Garrison has health conditions that are explainable: traumatic brain injury from the concussive blasts of explosives and post-traumatic stress disorder from the strain of combat. But he also has conditions that are harder to explain: nerve twitches, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, chronic prostatitis, low testosterone.

In researching those symptoms in U.S. soldiers, he came across websites like Burn Pits 360, where other veterans discussed the potential hazards associated with the massive open air burn pits used to dispose of waste at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Garrison used those pits in his supply role. He remembered some of the things that were thrown into them: feces, human remains, the carcasses of diseased animals, batteries, spent ammunition casings, medical waste.

“We were taking used vehicle parts that had transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, things like that and throwing them in these burn pits,” he said. “My job was to turn this stuff in. If it’s unserviceable, we disposed of it. Tires. Paint, I’m sure. Any one of those things, if you burn it stateside, you can get written up for it because it’s a hazard.”


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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The US Solicitor General Urges Supreme Court To Deny KBR’s Request for Review

The Solicitor General, on behalf of the US Government, submitted a brief on Dec. 18, 2014 urging Supreme Court to reject the appeal request of defendant KBR in the Burn Pit Litigation case. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held in favor of the military personnel and their families in an action against KBR, and others, for negligently operating burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the brief The US Government recommends that burn pit cases be remanded to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings. The Solicitor General wrote, “…The petition for a writ of certiorari should be denied.” 

Cases in the Burn Pit multi-district litigation, KBR Inc. et al. v. Alan Metzgar et al., include personal injury and wrongful death claims by veterans against the military contractor KBR, Inc. in the management and operation of open-air burn pits in active war zones. Read more about burn pit litigation .


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.