On November 21, 2019, Senator Dan Sullivan (AK) and Senator Joe Manchin (WV), introduced S. 2950- the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2019. The bill would concede exposure to burn pits and the toxins emitted.
Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not provide a presumption of service connection for diseases related to burn pit exposure. Because there is no current presumptive service connection, veterans must file claims for direct service connection for diseases and illnesses related to burn pit exposure, which requires them to provide sufficient evidence of burn pit exposure, the toxins emitted from the burn pit and a nexus between the toxins and their current disability.
The VA has tracked claims based on burn pit exposure from June 2007 through November 2018. Over 11,000 burn pit specific claims were filed; however, eighty percent were denied due to lack of diagnoses and lack of medical links to burn pit exposures and specific toxins.
- 2950 would concede exposure to burn pits to any veteran who served in the locations recognized by the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, further, the bill will concede exposure to specific toxins, as currently accepted by VA in their adjudication manual. If the evidence is not sufficient for the VA to grant the claim, the bill requires VA to request a medical opinion to address the association of the veteran’s claimed disease to the known toxins.
Consistent with DAV Resolution No.049, we support S. 2950, as it would remove obstacles for veterans establishing claims based on burn pits exposure. This would ensure VA conducts a medical exam and provides an opinion as to the association of the toxic exposures and the claimed disease.
We are calling on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Senators and urge them to co-sponsor and support S. 2950. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.