Burn Pits Legislation Gains Momentum on Capitol Hill

Burn Pits Legislation Gains Momentum on Capitol Hill

ASHINGTON, DC  — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), America’s leading post-9/11 veterans empowerment organization, announced today significant, additional support for its Burn Pits Accountability Act (H.R. 5671/S. 3181) to improve the tracking and reporting of servicemembers’ exposure to burn pits and airborne toxins during their deployments, and the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. Burn Pits are among IAVA’s 2018 Big 6 Priorities for post 9/11 veterans.

The House Burn Pits Accountability Act picked up an additional 41cosponsors just in July, for a total of 111 including its original sponsors, Reps. and post-9/11 veterans Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Brian Mast (R-FL). Further, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently introduced the Senate companion bill and are building support. On top of that, the legislation is backed by 26 Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs).

IAVA stood today with VSO partners and IAVA members to recognize the momentum building behind this important priority. Chief Policy OfficerMelissa Bryant and Legislative Director Tom Porter delivered remarks along with Reserve Officers Association Executive Director Major General (Ret.) Jeffrey Phillips, Dr. Tom Berger from Vietnam Veterans of America, Kathy Moakler from Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and Colonel (Ret.) Mike Barron from Military Officers Association of America.

“Per our most recent IAVA Member Survey, 80% of IAVA members report being exposed to burn pits and 63% of those exposed report symptoms. I count myself among the 63%,” said IAVA Chief Policy Officer, Melissa Bryant.“According to the VA, about 3.5 million servicemembers and veterans are eligible for enrollment in the VA’s Burn Pit and Toxic Exposures Registry yet only 151,000 are enrolled as of July 23, 2018. This coalition stands before you today to change this. We’ve collectively sounded the alarm, and Congress listened– and today, we can celebrate a quarter of the House who support the Burn Pits Accountability Act. We’re also celebrating the introduction of a Senate companion bill, plus Burn Pits evaluation language included in the NDAA, which will be signed into law by [the President] in the next couple of weeks. This is only the beginning and we’ve already come so far. We will NOT let burn pits and the toxic exposures suffered by the post-9/11 generation become our generation’s Agent Orange.”

“We need to start treating veterans now for their injuries,” said IAVA Legislative Director Tom Porter. “But [to better inform that treatment and related research] we can also do the easy thing like beefing up the data that goes into the VA’s Burn Pit Registry”…We don’t want to wait 40 years after we’ve all come home.”

Video of the full press conference can be viewed here. Photos can be found here.

Members of Congress and thousands of concerned citizens nationwide have now signed on to support this landmark bipartisan piece of legislation via IAVA’s Big 6 Priorities through our Take Action page.

Current Co-Sponsors of the Burn Pits Accountability Act (S. 3181/H.R. 5671) include: Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Brian Mast (R-FL), James Comer (R-KY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Walter Jones Jr. (R-NC), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Tom O’Halleran (R-AZ), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Denny Heck (D-WA), Rohit Khanna (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Peter King (R-NY), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jim Banks (R-IN), Darren Soto (D-FL), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jared Polis (D-CO), Don Bacon (R-NE), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Stevan Pearce (R-NM), George Holding (R-NC), James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI), John Katko (R-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Steve King (R-IA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Mike Bishop (R-MI), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Valdez Demings (D-FL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Tom Marino (R-PA), David Young (R-IA), John Rutherford (R-FL), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Sean Maloney (D-NY), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mark Takano (D-CA), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Charles J. Fleischmann (R-TN), Jason Smith (R-MO), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Richard Nolan (D-MN), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), James P McGovern (D-MA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Thomas A Garrett (R-VA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Lee M. Zeldin (R-NY), Dennis A. Ross (R-FL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Norma Torres (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Doris O. Matsui (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Eric A. Crawford (R-AR), Evan H. Jenkins (R-WV), Don Young (R-AK), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), James Himes (D-CT), Ron Kind (D-WI).

Supporting Organizations: Fleet Reserve Association, Military Officers Association of America, US Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Service Women’s Action Network, US Army Warrant Officer Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the US, The Retired Enlisted Association, Chief Warrant Officer Association- US Coast Guard, Air Force Sergeants Association, National Military Family Association, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, Association of the United States Navy, Disabled American Veterans, Air Force Women Officers Associated, AMSUS the Society of Federal Health Professionals, Reserve Officers Association, AMVETS (American Veterans), Burn Pits 360, National Guard Association of the United States, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Note to media: Email [email protected] or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.


Photo credit: iava.org

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