Drive Support for Injuries from Burn Pits and Toxic Exposures
What are Burn Pits?
Burn Pits, a common way to get rid of waste at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the Agent Orange of our generation. IAVA and other VSO partners are educating the public and elevating the issue to ensure it becomes a national priority. Our members see Burn Pits as a critical, urgent and growing threat that will impact an entire generation.
How do Burn Pits affect servicemembers and veterans?
In the short term, Burn Pits cause irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat; headaches; nausea; and difficulty breathing. We are still learning the long term impacts of Burn Pits. It is extremely important that anyone potentially exposed to Burn Pits enrolls in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry to ensure awareness of and treatment for related issues.
How widespread is the problem?
We ask our members about Burn Pit and Toxic Exposure each year in our Member Survey. This year, 86% of respondents reported exposure to Burn Pits or other Toxins. This number has steadily climbed since we began asking the question.
Burn Pit Registry
The VA estimates that 3.5 million veterans are eligible to register in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which tracks exposures to airborne toxins. However, because enrollment is voluntary, the registry is not well-known. This is an issue IAVA is working to correct.
What is IAVA doing about this issue?
IAVA is working with Legislators to ensure the health of servicemembers and veterans. Our recommendations for the 116th Congress are:
- Develop a Presumption of Exposure for Burn Pits and Airborne Toxins
- Drive Public Awareness Around Burn Pits and Toxic Exposures
- Hold DoD Accountable for Injuries due to Toxic Exposures
- Strengthen VA’s Tracking of Burn Pit and Toxic Exposures
Most Importantly, We're Winning
How is IAVA making progress toward these goals?
- December 17, 2019: IAVA-led Legislation to Address Military Burn Pit Exposures and to Protect GI Bill Recipients Headed to President’s Desk
- July 12, 2019: After IAVA Advocacy, House-passed Defense Bill Includes Bipartisan Measures
- July 2, 2019: IAVA Applauds Senate Passage of Burn Pits Accountability Act and Urges House to Act Next
IAVA's Big 6
As a direct result of our Annual Membership Survey, IAVA has focused on the six biggest issues facing veterans today. Learn more about our other issues.
More about Burn Pits & Toxic Exposures
There are other hazards beyond Burn Pits that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan that may also pose a danger for respiratory illnesses. These include inhaled irritant gases, high levels of fine dust, heavy metals due to operations in urban environments, plus the potential impact to the respiratory system from the effects of explosives and the inhalation of depleted uranium used in munitions.
It’s past time that comprehensive action is taken to address the growing concern that these exposures have severely impacted the long term health of veterans who served after 9/11.