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Burn pits ruling gives hope to exposed veterans, contractors |

Burn pits ruling gives hope to exposed veterans, contractors

| Tuesday, February 20, 2018 12:15 p.m
Regimental Combat Team 6
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - Sgt. Robert B. Brown from Fayetteville, N.C. with Regimental Combat Team 6, Combat Camera Unit watches over the civilian Fire Fighters at the burn pit as smoke and flames rise into the night sky behind him on May 25th, 2007.

While it doesn’t immediately change the Department of Veterans Affairs position on the issue, a federal administrative law judge’s ruling in a workers compensation case raises hopes for veterans and contractors exposed to smoke from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As first reported by Fox News, the judge ruled that Kellogg Brown and Root and its insurer, AIG, are responsible for covering the expenses of Veronica Landry of Colorado Spring, a contractor who was exposed to smoke from the burn pits while working at the Mosul Air Force Base in Iraq.

The military and government contractors used the burn pits to incinerate piles of human waste, plastics and chemicals. Some pits covered 10 acres and burned constantly.

After she returned home, Landry developed lung problems and other ailments that have repeatedly hospitalized her for a decade.

Veterans for years have contended the smoke from the pits was toxic and responsible for a wide range of health problems.

While the VA contends that research doesn’t show any long-term health problems from the exposure of burn pits, it maintains a registry for veterans to report their exposure and any health problems they believe are connected to that exposure.

More than 124,000 veterans signed up for the registry between April 25, 2014, and Dec. 13, 2017, according to the VA. About 64,000 are exhibiting symptoms they believe are due to burn pit exposure, according to AMVETS.

Veteran advocates and legal experts say the ruling won’t directly affect the VA position but it adds support to the veterans’ contention that the burn pits are responsible for their health problems, according to an analysis by the military blog, Task and Purpose,

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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