Yes, so 3.7 million service members served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf all the way back to the early ’90s and the Gulf War.
And many of them were exposed to toxic air, including by burn pits, literally pits where the military would burn everything from tires to styrofoam right next to where service members and lived and worked.
And veteran groups argued that created toxic smoke that afflicted service members with higher-than-average rates of illnesses, from asthma to cancer. And, for President Biden, this is personal. He believes that his son Beau’s brain cancer after service in Iraq may have been caused by a burn pit.
But of the 40,000 service members who applied for disability compensation or medical care since 9/11 for cancer, 60 percent were rejected. And the VA says there’s no scientific proof that those illnesses created — were created by toxic exposure during service. And to determine that link, VA relies on data from the National Academy of Sciences.
Now, in August, the VA eliminated that threshold for that link for less deadly conditions, like asthma. And, today, the White House is talking about cancers that veterans groups say are linked to toxic exposure during service.
For cancers, from now on, the VA will look at not only National Academy of Sciences data, but their own real-world data to — quote — “lower the evidentiary burden” to connect cancers with exposure to that toxic smoke during service. The VA has 90 days to look into this and report back.