President Joe Biden, who died of cancer years after his son Beau was deployed to Iraq, said Wednesday that millions of veterans who served at a military base where toxic smoke rises from a giant “burning pit” Signed legislation to expand federal health care services for military personnel.
“We owe you,” said Biden. “You are the backbone. You are the steel. You are the muscle. You are the very fabric that makes this country.”
The law, which Biden said was long overdue, was blamed on burn pits used by veterans to dispose of chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment, and human waste at military bases. It caps off years of fighting to secure treatment for chronic diseases that have been condemned. Estimates of the troops affected put him at over 3 million.
“So many of you here today are a reminder of what we’ve been fighting for all these years,” he said, adding sentiment that reflected the struggles of military families and the personal experience of the president. said at a White House ceremony.
Biden was introduced by Sergeant’s widow, Danielle Robinson. Private Heath Robinson, who died of cancer two years ago. A law is named after him.
She described her late husband as “a soldier as strong as an ox” as well as being the “ultimate embrace” for her daughter Brielle.
“Our story is just one example,” said Daniel Robinson. Thousands of veterans still struggle with burn pitt disease today. ”
After Robinson took his seat for the president’s remarks, Biden addressed Brielle directly.
“I know you miss your dad, but he’s always with you,” he said. He will whisper in your ear when you have to make a difficult decision. ”
He then pointed out that Brielle was sitting next to her grandson, Beau Biden’s son.
“His daddy lost to the same burn pit,” Biden said. “He knows what you’re going through.”
It was the most direct link the president publicly drew between Bo’s deadly brain tumor and his burn pits. I got one.
“I was going to make it through this. Hell or high tide,” he said Wednesday.
Senator John Tester (D-Mont), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Biden was the driving force behind the bill passed last week.
“Whether Bo died from this or not, Joe was pushing continuously because he wanted to fix this because I think it had some impact,” said the tester. “And because he thought it was the right thing to do. With a different president, with different priorities, this probably never would have happened.”
Incinerators have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of chemicals, cans, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs has dismissed 70% of disability allegations involving pit exposure.
“For too long, too many veterans who got sick while fighting for our country had to fight for treatment here at home,” said the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. ‘s Dennis McDonough said at the ceremony Wednesday.
The law directs officials to assume that certain respiratory diseases and cancers are linked to exposure to burn pits, and requires veterans to prove that the illnesses were the result of their service. It will help you receive disability compensation.
Iraqi Secretary of State Jeremy Butler said: “Veterans who are sick and unable to work or care for their families need not spend time fighting the government to get the health care they get.” and Afghan Veterans. “This is monumental.”
Butler attended the ceremony with Le Roy and Rosie Torres, a husband and wife who advocated for veterans’ healthcare and founded an organization called Burn Pits 360.
While burn pit provisions receive the most attention, other healthcare services will be expanded as well.
Veterans who have served since the September 11 attacks will be given 10 years to sign up for VA Healthcare, double the current 5 years.
And there is more help for veterans from the Vietnam War. Add hypertension to the list of
In addition, veterans who served in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll during the war are also believed to have been exposed to the chemical.
The law, considered the largest expansion of veterans’ healthcare in more than 30 years, turned into unlikely political football just before it was passed.
On the day the Senate was expected to give final approval, Republicans unexpectedly blocked it. Veterans who traveled to Washington for a moment of victory were devastated.
“All the veterans were there because they expected to celebrate,” Butler said.
Republicans said they were concerned about technical changes to how the bill would be financed. Democrats blamed them for the seizure because they were unhappy with another deal to push Biden’s domestic policies on climate change, taxes and prescription drugs.
Instead of going home, some veterans started having what they called “fire lookouts” outside the Capitol.
They stayed around the clock, despite the stifling summer heat and severe thunderstorms. Comedian Jon Stewart, who has championed veterans, also joined. Biden wanted to go, but he couldn’t because he was in quarantine with coronavirus.
Days after the demonstrations began, the Senate held another vote and passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Veterans watched the votes take place in the gallery.
“Everyone I was with was crying,” said former Army Captain Matt Zeller, who was among the demonstrators.