Service members are trained to endure harsh conditions for extensive periods of time. It is a building block of their training reaching back into the first days of bootcamp. However, nothing can prepare you for the toxic exposures from burn pits. Burn pits are large areas where waste was often disposed of during deployments across the Middle East and Northern Africa. Everything that was no longer of use was disposed: car parts, clothing, food, plastic, furniture, glass, and even human waste. It created a constant cloud of opaque pollution and a fine layer of soot that covered everything and drifted everywhere; even into the lungs of our service members.
To better address this health disparity, the VA has a Burn Pit Registry that can inform and assist service members who believe they have been affected. There are simple steps to access and become apart of the registry:
- Obtain a premium DS Logon level 2 account. This logon is used with many VA and Department of Defense (DoD) applications and websites.
- Once logged into the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR), the system pulls available deployment history from your DoD records. You should ensure that all administrative elements, such as your address and email, are complete.
- Once entered, select “REQUEST REVIEW.” Once the review is complete, an automated notification will be forwarded to the email address you provided. The AHOBPR Help Desk (1-877-470-5947) can assist Veterans with general questions concerning the registry, including DS Logon issues.
- Once you have access to the AHOBPR, complete the entire questionnaire and submit it. This should take about 40 minutes.
- Print out and save your completed questionnaire for your records.
- If you are a Veteran and already enrolled in the VA Health Care System, and you have completed the questionnaire, you may schedule an optional no-cost in-person medical evaluation. Contact your primary health care provider or your Patient Aligned Care Team to schedule this medical evaluation.
- If you are not enrolled in the VA Health Care System, you can still get a no-cost, in-person medical evaluation. Please contact an EHC near you to schedule an appointment. If you have any difficulties in making this appointment, please contact your local Environmental Health Coordinator (EHC). The EHC is your point of contact for any issues or questions not including questionnaire login problems, and can help you schedule your medical exam with your provider or an Environmental Health Clinician.
- Reserve Component Members (Army and Air National Guard, and Reserve): whether you separated or are still serving, you are eligible for a no-cost VA medical evaluation, just like other Veterans. Please contact a VA EHC near you.
- Your printed-out questionnaire may be helpful to the provider conducting your exam. Bring it to the exam.
With the creation of the VA Burn Pits Registry the VA and other health care providers are now able to identify the populations that have been affected and better serve their medical needs. The registry only works if veterans and service members come forward and participate in the steps above to become apart of the registry.
Learn more about IAVA’s Campaign to Initiate Support for Injuries from Burn Pits and Toxic Exposures and more about all of our Big 6 Priorities for 2018 here. And register for the VA’s Burn Pit Registry here.