Burn Pit Exposure Claims
Thousands of veterans returning home from Afghanistan, Iraq, and most of Southwest Asia are coming back with a myriad of respiratory infections which may be attributable to burn pit exposure.
Throughout the Middle East, the military as well as private defense contractors used open-air burn pits to dispose of all waste and trash. Many of these pits contained everything from ordinary trash to amputated body parts, vehicles, petroleum products, batteries and other substances which contained an array of chemical pollutants.
Many veterans coming home with symptoms of respiratory illnesses are concerned about the long-term effects of exposure to burn pits. If you do develop symptoms, you may be able to get VA disability benefits for your injuries.
Our Modern Agent Orange?
Congress and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are investigating claims that exposure to burn pits leads to long-term respiratory illness. So far, the VA has not found any evidence which conclusively links the pits to serious extended health problems.
Many veterans’ advocates and members of Congress have likened burn pit exposure to the claims of veterans returning from Vietnam who had been exposed to Agent Orange. It took decades for the VA to recognize that chemical’s toxicity, and many are hoping that acting fast to investigate burn pits will help veterans who do develop chronic illnesses.
In response to these concerns, Congress has forced the VA to compile an online registry of burn pit locations. The registry also allows veterans who may have been exposed to toxic inhalants to report and keep track of any symptoms they may be suffering.
Can I Apply for Disability Benefits After Burn Pit Exposure?
Sometimes, proving that you were exposed to a certain chemical or situation (like Agent Orange claims) allows you to file an expedited disability claim with the VA. Unfortunately, the VA has not yet put exposure to burn pits in this category. However, if your exposure leads to recognized medical condition, you will still be able to apply for disability benefits.
- Abdominal pain
- Breathing problems
- Cancer (lung, brain, skin, bone)
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic Cough
- Heart conditions
- Nose bleeds
- Restrictive Airway Disease
- Sleep apnea
- Throat infections
- Weight loss
- Saudi Arabia
- Gulf of Aden
- Gulf of Oman
- United Arab Emirates
- Waters of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea
Anyone who believes they have suffered injury after exposure to a burn pit is eligible to register their exposure if they were deployed during:
- Operation Enduring Freedom (after September 11, 2001)
- Operation Iraqi Freedom (after September 11, 2001)
- Operation New Dawn (after September 11, 2001)
- Operation Desert Shield (after August 2, 1990)
- Operation Desert Storm (after August 2, 1990)
- Any other Southwest Asia theater of operations after August 2, 1990.
If you have been exposed to burn pits in any of these operations, you can participate in the registry by completing a questionnaire at https://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry.
Contact Vets National Advocates
If you are suffering from a respiratory illness or disease after exposure to burn pits, you may be able to file a claim for disability benefits. Since these claims are relatively new, you should seek the advice and assistance of experienced professionals like those at Vets National Advocates. Our advocates can help you appeal your denied claim at no cost to you.