A bill sponsored by 8th District Democrat Elissa Slotkin that would provide veterans affected by burn pit exposure access to specialized care, passed the House Thursday.
The Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act formally acknowledges that those who served near open-air burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places were exposed to airborne hazards and toxins.
According to a release from Slotkin’s office, the Department of Veterans Affairs currently requires veterans to prove their ailments were caused by burn-pit exposure, denying many critical health care and benefits. By formally recognizing the health impacts of burn-pits, the legislation removes the burden of proof from military personnel and require the VA to perform a medical examination to determine if exposure is linked to a veteran’s particular ailment.
Slotkin has called burn pit exposure “our generation’s Agent Orange,” adding that it is “unacceptable that thousands of veterans are expected to jump through the legal hurdles of proving their exposure to the VA.
The bill is supported by several veteran advocacy groups including Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Wounded Warrior Project.