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Gillibrand: Treat Vets Exposed To Toxic Burn Pits

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of N.Y.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
Gillibrand says 3.5 million veterans might have been exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits.

Lawmakers joined military veterans on Long Island to push for legislation that would make it easier for veterans to get disability benefits for diseases linked to toxic burn pits.

The military uses jet fuel to burn garbage in large pits at its bases overseas. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York says the toxic fumes cause respiratory illnesses, but the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t recognize that burn pits made them sick.

“The VA says to them, ‘you have to prove it. You have to prove that you were there. You have to prove that you were exposed. You have to prove that what was in the pit is causing your ailment.’" Gillibrand says, "Well, frankly, that's total BS. Because we know what was there. We know what was burned. We know that they cause disease.”

The bill allows veterans to qualify for benefits if they have certain illnesses and were deployed to one of 34 countries where burn pits are used. Gillibrand says 3.5 million veterans might have been exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.