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U.S. Senator Gillibrand and comedian Jon Stewart fight for veterans benefits

Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart speaks alongside Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Still Image Courtesy Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Facebook page

Comedian Jon Stewart joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Capitol Hill Thursday to urge congress to help veterans exposed to toxins to get health coverage.

Gillibrand introduced legislation that would streamline the process for veterans to obtain benefits for illness due to exposure to burn pits and other toxins. She said the Veterans Administration (VA) denies coverage to nearly eight out 10 veterans who apply for coverage for illnesses related to toxic exposure.

“We send these brave service members into duty, onto the front lines of the war on terror all across the globe,” Gillibrand said. “They expose themselves to the most dangerous conditions known to this world. To deny them the care that they need today is a dereliction of our duty as Americans.”

Currently, a veteran must prove that they were near a toxic location and pay out-of-pocket to provide medical proof that the illness is linked to that specific toxic location.

If passed, the legislation would remove the requirement to provide medical proof and would provide guaranteed coverage for a list of illnesses associated with exposure to toxins.

Jon Stewart said the country needs to take care of the people who have served it.

“If we can’t correct even the most basic of injustices to those who have served us then — I believe the phrase would be ‘yikes,’” Stewart said.

John is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.