Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Udall, 7 Other Senators Introduce Burn Pit Amendment to Help Veterans

On Monday, Mark Udall announced he has joined seven other senators in introducing a bipartisan amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act to create a national registry of service members and veterans impacted by open air burn pits, helping identify and take better care of those affected.  Co-sponsoring the amendment are senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo).  The amendment is identical to the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011, introduced earlier this month.  Read the bill HERE.
As early as 2002, U.S. military installations in Afghanistan and Iraq began to rely on open-air burn pits to dispose of waste materials.  The U.S. Department of Defense made frequent use of burn pits at a number of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan despite concerns about air pollution.
The amendment creates a similar registry to the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Registry.  The establishment of an open burn pit registry will help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determine to what extent air pollution, caused by open air burn pits, has led to medical diseases among service members.  The amendment will also serve as a vehicle for improved communication and information dissemination for affected veterans.
"Our heroes' health may be seriously impacted from the use of burn pits in combat zones, and we owe it to those affected to collect all the information necessary to properly take care of them when they get home," Mark Udall said.  "This registry will help create a database of those who have been exposed to burn pits and improve communication so that important health services can actually get to them.”
The amendment will:
•    Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who may have been exposed during their military service;
•    Include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
•    Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the registry;
•    Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure;
•    Require an assessment and report to Congress by an independent scientific organization.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Our Veterans - Veterans Day 2011

Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America’s ideals, our service members have ensured our country still stands strong, our founding principles still shine, and nations around the world know the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm’s way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.
Our men and women in uniform are bearers of a proud military tradition that has been dutifully passed forward—from generation to generation—for more than two centuries. In times of war and peace alike, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved. The selflessness of our service members is unmatched, and they remind us that there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others.
Just as our veterans stood watch on freedom’s frontier, so have they safeguarded the prosperity of our Nation in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes. As teachers and engineers, doctors and parents, these patriots have made contributions to civilian life that serve as a testament to their dedication to the welfare of our country. We owe them a debt of honor, and it is our moral obligation to ensure they receive our support for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. This year, as our troops in Iraq complete their mission, we will honor them and all who serve by working tirelessly to give them the care, the benefits, and the opportunities they have earned.
On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country’s call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.
With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2011, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ATS Calls on US Government to Look at Respiratory Consequences of Burn Pits on Military Personnel

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) has released a statement on the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recent report on the long-term health consequences for military personnel of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. In its report, the IOM was unable to reach a definitive conclusion that burn pits are the cause of increased respiratory and other diseases seen in this population and called for a prospective study on the long-term health effects of exposure to burn-pit emissions.

In response, Nicholas S. Hill, MD, president of ATS, is urging the US government to begin such a study to help determine what effects “burn pits, diesel fuel combustion, or ambient air pollution, including desert dust—or a combination of these and other factors—have contributed to the lung problems of Afghanistan and Iraqi veterans.”

“Such a study,” adds Hill, “will also help physicians and other scientists determine if burn pits contributed to chronic diseases experienced by armed service personnel after being exposed to the burn pits.”

Source: American Thoracic Society

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rogue Bee: True story of Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis who risked his career trying to stop burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan

"My narrative "faction": (true story, names changed) about Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Entitled "Rogue Bee," this is the harrowing story of Lt. Col. Darren Curtis who risked his career to testify before the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, November, 2009. 

The U.S. Army is burning trash in Iraq and Afghanistan--munitions, body parts, medicines. Tom Clancy meets Michael Crichton in this suspense-filled, graphic story of: politics; corruption; war; medicine; and science, geographically spanning the farthest reaches of the globe. This is all true. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

(Video web link to the U.S. Senate hearing below) Anthony Szema, M.D. Head, Allergy Diagnostic Unit Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine Chief, Allergy Section, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Northport, NY 1% of profits from this book directly support asthma research.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Akin Introduces Burn Pit Legislation to Support Veterans

Senator Udall Introduces Companion Bill in Senate
WashingtonDC – Today Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) announced the introduction of the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011. Senator Udall (D-NM) is introducing a companion bill in the Senate today as well. 
Akin’s bill, which is modeled after the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry, will create a registry within the Veterans Administration (VA) which is the first step toward helping the VA better care for those affected by burn pits.
“I have worked with a number of my constituents who were exposed to burn pits while serving in the military, and have been suffering from very severe health problems since,” said Congressman Akin. “Unfortunately, the VA has struggled to help these veterans. Creating a burn pit registry is an important step to help these veterans get the care and support they need and that our nation has promised them.”
Senator Udall (D-NM), who will be offering a companion bill in the Senate provided the following statement: “Open Air Burn pits were widely used at military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan to burn organic materials, chemicals, unspent fuel and other dangerous waste.  The resulting exposure has in some cases led to serious health repercussions for many returning troops and veterans,” said Udall. “With this registry, we can ensure that those who have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while serving overseas are better informed about the effects so that they can be properly treated.”
Congressman Akin added, “I specifically want to thank the tireless citizens with Burn Pits 360. Their advocacy and support of those affected by burn pits is truly commendable, and this legislation would not have been created without their hard work.”
The Open Burn Pit Registry Act is supported by the following veterans groups:
  • Burn Pits 360
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Association of the U.S. Navy
  • The Retired Enlisted Association
  • Association of the United States Navy
  • The Reserve Enlisted Association
  • American Legion
  • National Military Family Association
  • Vietnam Veterans of America
  • Association of the Air Force
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • Non Commissioned Officers Association
Click here to read more about burn pit claims for benefits and lawsuits. Call Jon L. Gelman at 973.696.7900 or e-mail