SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Veterans throughout the nation, including Georgia and Chatham County are suffering from respiratory illnesses related to burn pits. The pits were set up in Afghanistan and Iraq, often very close to military installations and garbage was burned along with other hazardous materials.
“Well, it was my understanding that this was essentially a garbage disposal, whether it be body parts or burning diesel you know, it was not a pleasant thing at all,” says Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter who represents the 1st district.
Carter says an earlier bill to deal with the burn pit issue never got support in the Senate and he believes it was because the legislation was too broad. Now Carter is co-sponsoring a bill he says is more specific in terms of who would be helped and how.
“It only covers those veterans who were stationed where there was a burn pit,” Carter said. “If you were in the U.S. and in the military, thanks for your service but if you never were deployed overseas and never were exposed then no, it’s not going to cover you.”
The bill calls for the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to set up a screening process to help determine potential exposure to toxic substances during active military service.
“What will happen is if you were indeed stationed in an area that would have led to exposure and then you have a checkup and you are found to have a symptom related to this then you’re going to get medical treatment for it,” said Carter.
It’s estimated up to 3 million veterans are suffering from problems related to exposure of burn pits.
While the first bill was bogged down, Carter feels positive that this new legislation will get bi-partisan support.
“We want to make sure that our veterans who are our heroes who deserve to have medical care definitely receive it,” said Carter.