By MOAA Staff
Improving the care of veterans dealing with the effects of toxic exposure should be a priority for both Congress and the VA, a MOAA board member wrote in a recent commentary published by The Hill.
The need to reform this process comes as the long-term effects of burn pit exposure after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come into focus, writes Rear Adm. Tom Jurkowsky, USN (Ret), citing media reports on the issue as well as active legislation that would make critical changes to determining benefits eligibility, among other areas.
“Our organization believes the time has come for action on this issue – not for more studies and data collection efforts,” Jurkowsky writes for The Hill, a news outlet based in Washington, D.C., covering federal policy, defense, finance, and technology.
Comprehensive toxic exposure reform is one of three issues that make up Advocacy in Action, MOAA’s signature advocacy campaign. MOAA supports multiple pieces of legislation that will improve these benefits for deserving veterans, their families, and survivors, to include the bipartisan Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) Act. Learn more about the legislation at this link.
Jurkowsky also outlined the benefits of another bipartisan bill, the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who introduced the bill with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said the legislation “does away with the unreasonable burden on veterans to prove that they were exposed to burn pits while serving at an installation where the pits were in use.”
This reform and others are key to a new generation of veterans avoiding some of the problems still faced by Vietnam veterans dealing with the effects of Agent Orange exposure. MOAA has worked to ensure those veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, both with ongoing legislative efforts as supporting successful improvements in the treatment of Blue Water Navy veterans and the expansion of the list of conditions presumed connected to Agent Orange.
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