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House bill could allow veterans treatment for exposure to toxic burn pits

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 21:15:32-04

BELL COUNTY, TX — For years veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been pleading with Congress to pass legislation to both recognize and treat illnesses caused by the toxic burning of waste.

It's a fight even actor and comedian John Stuart has weighed in on.

”Lets dig a giant pit, 10-acres long and burn everything in Washington with jet fuel,” said John Stuart, speaking in Washington on the need for burn pit legislation. “Then let me know how long they want to wait before they think it’s going to cause some health problems.”

It is estimated that over three million vets were exposed to the toxic fumes caused by burning trash in the pits and kept lit by jet fuel.

”Black smoke, it was coming over our living areas all the time. You’d back up your 5-ton to the pit, you’re getting ready to scoop all your stuff into the burn pit and that black smoke is wafting back at you all the time,” said Timothy Ferch, veteran exposed to burn pits in Iraq.

Fort Hood veteran Tim Ferch, a retired Army combat engineer who maintained burn pits in Iraq, said he had no idea he was breathing in toxic fumes but he became one of the many vets seeking treatment when they returned home.

”Our breathing wasn’t right and there were other issues that we all had. The veterans among us, we were saying, it had to be the burn pits. The burn pits had to have done something to us,” said Ferch.

Any claims to medical benefits because of it were often denied but on Wednesday, the U.S. House passed an amended version of a senate bill that could change all that; news that Ferch was excited to here.

”They’re actually seeing that something happened to us and we’re actually going to be able to get checked out for it. You know, so they’re coming good on their promise,” said Ferch. “I just wish it didn’t take this long.”

The bill would allow for millions of veterans exposed to the toxic burn pits to seek treatment and benefits through the VA.

The bill has passed the House but still needs to pass the Senate before heading to the President's desk to be signed into law.