09/23/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/23/2021 20:16
Washington, D.C. - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed three of Ruiz's bills to address the military's use of toxic burn pits as part of this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022. Ruiz's bills would expand the Burn Pits Registry, enhance medical training on the health effects of burn pits, increase reporting of burn pit exposure, and pave the way for waste disposal alternatives to military burn pits.
"The passage of my three burn pits bills in this year's National Defense Authorization Act is great news for our nation's veterans and servicemembers," said Dr. Ruiz. "Servicemembers are returning home from the battlefield only to become delayed casualties of war, suffering and sometimes dying from lung diseases, cancers, and autoimmune diseases caused by their exposure to toxic military burn pits. My bills will help bring us closer to providing the attention that this DOD self-inflicted public health crisis requires by quickly identifying at-risk servicemembers and getting them the care they need, expanding the Burn Pit Registry, and paving the way for a future free from burn pits. I look forward to getting this bipartisan legislation passed in the Senate to address this urgent public health crisis right away."
"The VFW supports Congressman Ruiz's efforts to address burn pits including mandatory training for VA medical providers, ensuring proper resources for disposal alternatives, and expanding the areas covered by VA's burn pit registry," said Kristina Keenan, National Legislative Service Associate Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars. "The VFW's number one legislative priority is addressing toxic exposure reform and these pieces of legislation are important steps to taking care of service members and veterans. We look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Ruiz on the issue of burn pits and passing comprehensive toxic exposure legislation this year."
"IAVA applauds Congressman Ruiz for his commitment to helping veterans and servicemembers suffering toxic exposures, including burn pits," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Executive VP Tom Porter. "His efforts to include provisions in the annual Defense bill to improve DoD transparency, establish medical training, and bolster research around toxic military exposures will take us measurable steps forward in this fight for those who have served our nation in uniform."
In addition to providing crucial funding for our nation's military, this year's NDAA includes a nearly three percent pay raise for the military and strengthens parental leave for caregiving servicemembers.
"Now more than ever, it is crucial that we support our nation's courageous servicemembers," continued Dr. Ruiz. "This year's National Defense Authorization Act will make our nation safer and stronger while delivering crucial support for our men and women in uniform with a much-needed pay raise and expanded parental leave for caregiving servicemembers."
Ruiz's bills included in this year's NDAA are as follows:
1. H. R. 4397, the Department of Defense (DOD) Burn Pits Health Provider Training Act, which would require DOD to implement mandatory training for all medical providers working under DOD on the potential health effects of burn pits.
2. H. R. 4398, the Reducing Exposure to Burn Pits Act, which would require DOD to include in their budget request to Congress an estimate of funding exclusively dedicated for incinerators and waste-to-energy waste disposal alternatives to burn pits.
3. H.R. 4400, the Burn Pit Registry Expansion Act, which would require DOD and VA to expand the Burn Pits Registry to include Egypt and Syria.
The passage of Ruiz's burn pits bills comes after years of his continued advocacy on behalf of servicemembers exposed to toxic burn pits and their families.
Earlier this year, Ruiz joined Jon Stewart, House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (CA-42), Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02), and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) in introducing H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act, comprehensive legislation to get veterans who have been exposed to burn pits and other toxins the health care and benefits they've earned and deserve.
In June, the House Veterans Affairs Committee advanced H.R. 3967, which includes several of Ruiz's provisions, to help veterans who have been exposed to burn pits access crucial health care services.