Jon Stewart Joins Fight To Help Veterans Sickened By Burn Pits

By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — First responders during the 9/11 terror attacks are facing serious medical problems as the result of their service and needed to fight for the government to pay for their care. Now, American service members are dealing with a similar challenge.

Comedian Jon Stewart stepped in to help 9/11 first responders, and even traveled with them to Capitol Hill to participate in the hearings that would eventually lead to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund being extended until 2070.

Now, he wants to do the same for American veterans who face health complications from their exposure to toxic burn pits while overseas.

“They burn 24/7, everything, every hazardous waste was piled into them,” Stewart explained.

Military bases overseas have burned all of their waste including plastics and other toxic materials.

The pits emit toxic fumes that some have inhaled and now face long-term health issues.

Danielle Robinson says her husband was exposed and later died of a rare lung cancer at just 35.

“The oncologist we saw was astonished, and said, ‘What the hell have you been exposed to?’” she said. "My husband is dead because America knowingly poisoned its soldiers."

Currently, veterans facing these health issues need to prove to the federal government that their illnesses are linked to burn pits to receive compensation.

“The VA, and the Pentagon, are holding these veterans to a bar that nobody can meet. We know smoking causes lung cancer. But if you have lung cancer, you can’t actually prove that it was the smoke. And that’s the bar that they’re holding these veterans to. And it’s unacceptable. And the truth is, it’s not about science. It’s about money. They don’t want to do this for these veterans because they think it’s too expensive. We always have money for war; we never have money for the war fighter. And it’s unacceptable. We support the troops until the troops need support. And then we bury it,” said Stewart

He tells WCBS 880: “The truth is, it's not about science, it's about money.”

New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand wants to change that. She has introduced legislation that will protect sickened veterans.

“The ‘Presumptive Benefits For War Fighters Exposed To Burn Pits And Other Toxins Act’ will remove the burden of proof,” she said. "All that service members would have to submit to receive care is evidence of deployment to one of the 34 countries named in the bill."

As many as 3.5 million veterans may have potentially been exposed to toxic fumes and could now develop cancers and other illnesses.

“More than three million service members could have been exposed to toxic burn pits, yet the VA continues to deny them care by placing the burden of proof on veterans suffering from rare cancers, lung diseases, and respiratory illnesses. Congress cannot sit by as the VA ignores its duty. The bottom line is that our veterans served our country, they are sick and they need health care—period,” said Senator Gillibrand.

Burn pits are no longer widely used but, as of June 2019, there were nine burn pits still in operation in parts of the Middle East and Egypt.

Burn pits are no longer widely used but, as of June 2019, there were nine burn pits still in operation in parts of the Middle East and Egypt. 

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