06/03/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/03/2020 15:29
'Many of our servicemembers and veterans are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic, especially those who were stationed near burn pits,' said Klobuchar. 'As a result of being exposed to toxic substances from burn pits during their military service, many suffer from significant respiratory illnesses, and now they may face heightened health risks during the pandemic due to previous toxic exposure. This legislation would help to ensure that they receive the care they need.'This bill would require the DOD and VA to ask servicemembers and veterans - who have tested positive for a virus that is designated as a pandemic by the federal government, including COVID-19 - if they were exposed to burn pits. Servicemembers and veterans exposed to toxic airborne chemicals or stationed near an open burn pit will also be enrolled in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, unless they choose to opt out.
The bill also directs the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence to conduct a study of the health impacts on servicemembers and veterans who test positive for a virus that is designated as a global pandemic - including those who test positive for COVID-19 - and were exposed to burn pits and toxic substances.
The legislation is endorsed by the Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) coalition, which is comprised of 30organizations,including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association (IAVA) and Wounded Warrior Project.In April, Rounds and Klobuchar wrote aletterto the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take additional measures to make certain that our at-risk veterans - including those exposed to burns pits and other toxic substances - receive the care they need during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.