More than 25,000 veterans say they’ve been sickened by exposure to burn pits, but the VA has yet to recognize the link. Burn pits operated on U.S. military bases across Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the wars, more than 250 bases burned their trash, releasing large plumes of black smoke into the air. Anthony Thornton is one of the many veterans who believes he got sick from toxins he was exposed to from massive open-air burn pits.
Thornton says he has trouble speaking, and he can’t read anymore. He can’t keep up with his 3-year-old daughter and even has trouble remembering her name, along with other family members.
I’ve lost a lot, and what I would like to do, I don’t really have that anymore, said Thornton. I don’t like being like this.
He described the burn pits saying,
During the daytime, it was solid black. You could smell it, and depending on where the sun was, it was so thick, it would block some of the sun.
He was diagnosed with asthma and bronchitis while he was working as a prison guard in Iraq at Camp Bucca. Three years after he came home, doctors found a tumor. Thornton suffers from a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. Doctors had to take out parts of his brain “ his temporal lobe and part of his hippocampus.
Kerry Baker is a former Veterans Affairs official who has been fighting to get the Department of Defense and the VA to recognize that burn pit exposure has sickened veterans.
Some of them are dying, Baker said. We have claims from widows whose [spouses] have died from various types of cancers. We have claims from young guys who just have diabetes or have lymphoma or have leukemia.
Dr. Craig Postlewaite, is the Department of Defenses top public health official. He acknowledges that people are sick and claims, “we’re really trying to do our best to determine if burn pits are responsible,
Unfortunately, The Department of Defense has not confirmed that toxic exposures from burn pit smoke could have sickened service members. Thousands of Veterans are left fighting for compensation and recognition that is owed to them.
“Burn Pits 360” is an advocacy group that has taken action. Due to their lobbying effort, the VA started an online registry for people who feel they are sick from burn pits. The registry opened in June and over 25,000 people have signed up so far. Baker, the former Veteran Affairs official who has analyzed the toxins found in burn pit smoke, says it doesn’t go far enough. He thinks, “it absolutely could be this generations Agent Orange,