Many OIF/OEF veterans know exactly what a burn pit is, since they lived
and worked near and around them. The military used large trash pits as
a way to get rid of refuse, and burned many different kinds of material.
While the VA concedes that exposure to the fumes of the burn pits caused
eye irritation and burning, coughing and throat irritation, breathing
difficulties, and skin itching and rashes, the VA views these problems
as largely transient.
For many veterans who worked and lived around burn pits, though, serious
illnesses plague them. Veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq developed
health problems including cancer, chronic fatigue and weakness, neuropathy,
and hypothyroidism. Breathing problems such as constrictive bronchitis,
asthma, and emphysema follow service members home as well. Although no
definitive studies link burn pits with these conditions, for many veterans
and their families, the link seems obvious as previously healthy people
return home only to fall ill.
While the VA has not conceded the dangers of burn pits, that doesn’t
mean you shouldn’t make a claim for benefits on the basis of those
exposures. Keep in mind that “burn pit exposures” is not considered
a compensable claim. Breathing problems, such as chronic bronchitis, chronic
fatigue syndrome, various cancers, and even disorders normally related
to Agent Orange exposure can be. At least some of the materials burned
in the pits produced chemicals nearly identical to Agent Orange.
Don’t be discouraged if you receive an initial denial for your claims.
We do not yet have a full understanding of the effects of burn pits, but
litigation can clarify the issue. If you need assistance with your claims,
or you have recently been denied, contact our office for a free consultation