Deployed vets worldwide have been exposed to a range of respiratory ailments associated with burn pits.  This is a growing area of disability among veterans, particularly those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Burn pits are open areas where trash was burned to facilitate disposal.  Smoke from materials that were combusted in these pits contained many substances that, when breathed, cause acute and chronic health issues.  Due to the presence of plastics, chemicals, paints, medical and human waste, ordnance, rubber, oils and lubricants, and wood in these burn pits, veterans were exposed to a wide variety of chemical and toxic agents.  These toxins can end up affecting the skin, respiratory organs, eyes, and even heart, gastrointestinal (stomach/intestines), and other organ systems.

While it’s recognized by the VA and the scientific community that exposure to many of these burned materials can be harmful, there is still some dispute as to the role of these materials in health and disability.  The VA is studying exposure and the health of those who have been exposed.

VA has established an Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Registry.  Most vets who deployed after August 2nd, 1990 can join the registry (SW Asian theater) or Afghanistan or Djibouti after September 11th, 2001.

Access the Burn Pit Registry at http://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home.  Those eligible to participate in the registry are also eligible to obtain an optional, no-cost, in-person medical evaluation (not a formal disability examination).

Most VA medical centers also have an individual who is assigned as an Environmental Health Coordinator, who can provide additional information.  Any veteran can file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe have an origin in burn pit exposure.  For assistance with any denial of a claim for benefits, contact Iowa veterans’ attorney Joel Fenton at 515-480-1542 or joelfentonlaw@gmail.com.