In Texas, Biden says new legislation could expand benefits for victims of burning pit

WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday called for a broad expansion of health benefits for veterans, especially those who fell ill afte...


WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday called for a broad expansion of health benefits for veterans, especially those who fell ill after inhaling toxic materials from burning garbage during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a exhibit which he believes contributed to the cancer that killed his eldest son, Beau.

For Mr Biden, the question is personal and political. Last week, in his State of the Union address, he said he would continue expanding benefits for veterans as part of a nationwide program the White House revamped to put the emphasis on bipartisan comity after failing to secure passage of a broader social safety net plan. year.

On Tuesday, Mr Biden briefly diverted his attention from a turbulent war in Europe to travel with Denis McDonough, the veterans secretary, to a clinic near Fort Worth. There, the president encountered veterans who had suffered spinal injuries and started coughing up dark matter after serving near burn pits, as Army garbage disposal fires are known to be.

Addressing an audience of veterans and lawmakers, Biden said it had taken years for researchers and lawmakers to better understand the harmful effects of Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the war. Vietnam. He compared this situation with what he believes to be a delay in studying the effects of toxins inhaled by troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who burned garbage and other waste. Burn pits are usually filled with waste, such as medical waste and vehicles, which is then doused with jet fuel and burned.

Mr. Biden pointed out that he had worked as a senator to support research into the effects of Agent Orange, and he said that young veterans who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, often more than a times, deserved a similar level of support.

“Today we are even slower to connect the dots of what is happening,” Biden said during his remarks. He pointed out that new illnesses, including bladder cancer, were still being added as possible outcomes of Agent Orange exposure, some as recently as last year.

“Science has told us more, decades after exposure,” Biden said. “It has taken far too long to reach this decision in my opinion, and I refuse to repeat the mistake when it comes to veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Proving a link between toxic substances in war zones and later illnesses suffered by veterans has been politically onerous for lawmakers and prohibitively expensive for many people who fall ill. But activists who have fought for benefits for years see a champion in Mr. Biden, who has long speculated that the toxic substances from the fireplaces contributed to his son’s brain cancer. Young Mr. Biden, died in 2015served in Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.

“What better advocate can we have than the President of the United States? Susan Zeier, whose son-in-law died of lung cancer after serving in Iraq, said in an interview. Ms. Zeier, part of a group of activists who have been trying for years to get the government’s attention, found in Mr. Biden a sympathetic listener.

“Some members of Congress who have walked slowly, I think, may finally be seeing the light,” she added.

Three members of Congress – two Democrats and a Republican – traveled with Mr. Biden to Fort Worth. One, Rep. Jake Ellzey, Republican of Texas, recounted his own years in the military as the reason for his decision to join Mr. Biden for the event.

“There are a lot of things wrong with our country and our world today,” Mr Ellzey said. “These are tough times. These are scary times. At the end of the day, we don’t put an R or D ahead of a veteran.

Mr Biden pointed to bipartisan support for a bill, passed by the House last week, which would expand disability benefits for veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances and classify more health problems as related to exposure to fireplaces. Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, also have a bill to improve Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for service members exposed to burning fireplaces.

“These are the bills that will unite the American people,” Biden said. “Let’s bring these invoices to my office so I can sign them immediately.”

Opponents of the legislation passed by the House say it will only increase what is already a large backlog for others seeking medical care. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an Iowa Republican and veteran, called the bill “very expensive” and accused its authors of partisanship.

“The people who will bear the brunt of the House Democrats’ lackluster action today are ordinary Americans who need Congress to simply get the job done,” she said in a statement last week after the passage of the bill in the House.

Proponents and opponents of the legislation agree that more research needs to be done to determine whether illnesses veterans develop after service may be linked to burning fireplaces. The Department of Veterans Affairs has said in the past that there is little evidence to prove that burning fireplaces contribute to veterans’ illnesses, and it still advises that many symptoms should resolve after exposure ends.

But the department also says researchers are “actively investigating airborne hazards such as combustion pits and other military environmental exposures.” according to an agency webpage on the subject.

Last week, the department said it would seek to add nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of service-related disabilities caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in fireplaces. Mr Biden acknowledged that more research needs to be done on the links between heartburn and later illnesses, but he said he wanted the department to support veterans in the meantime.

“When the evidence does not provide a clear answer one way or the other, the decision we should take is to take care of our veterans as we continue to learn more,” Biden said. “No waiting, no waiting.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: In Texas, Biden says new legislation could expand benefits for victims of burning pit
In Texas, Biden says new legislation could expand benefits for victims of burning pit
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