Guard praises expanded list of ‘burn pit’ cancers

US Army photo of soldiers burning trash in Baghdad, Iraq in September, 2008.

By Guy Page

Citing the death of several members to burn pit cancers, the Vermont National Guard today praised the decision to expand the list of respiratory cancers attributed to the open air burn pits.

“After losing several of our members to rare cancers from exposure to open air burn pits, we welcome the VA’s news of 9 respiratory cancers added to the presumptive list,” the Vermont stated on Facebook. 

The Military Times reported yesterday that “Veterans Affairs officials this week will add nine respiratory cancers to the list of illnesses presumed caused by burn pit exposure, easing the path veterans suffering from those conditions have to take to get disability benefits…..The move follows promises by administration officials last fall to speed up care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pit smoke in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas locations over the last 32 years.”

Soldier Wesley Black of White River Junction died last year at age 36 after the government agreed to a burn-pit settlement. The Bronze Star winner received $3 million from the federal government shortly before his death of colon cancer, which he blamed on working near the pits, where highly toxic substances were burned. 

Also former Vermont National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael T. Heston, 58, died Nov. 14, 2018 from an aggressive cancer linked to his three tours of duty in Afghanistan.

All eligible veterans should register with the VA to add more disability benefits, the Guard added. 

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