Although they are not readily awarded and difficult to obtain, veterans’ disability benefits are available for burn pit exposure. However, there must be concrete evidence to show that the issues a veteran is experiencing are the direct result of the exposure to a burn pit that contained toxic substances.
Veterans who were exposed to burn pits during deployment periods in both Iraq and Afghanistan should take note due to the toxic chemicals they were exposed to. Veterans’ advocacy groups refer to burn pits as the new “Agent Orange.” Service locations that are currently eligible for burn pit exposure benefits include Desert Storm, Operations Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom, Southwest Asia after August 1990, Djibouti, Africa after September 2001, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Although there are no medical conditions currently deemed to be caused directly by burn pit exposure, there are several conditions that could be related. They include skin conditions, lung cancer, respiratory problems, brain cancer, gastrointestinal problems, and many others. These are known to be caused by exposure to the types of items that were burned, including aluminum, batteries, various chemicals, human waste, plastic, petroleum and others.
Due to the difficulty in obtaining disability benefits, it is highly recommended that a claimant seek legal counsel for assistance in filing. They will very likely be denied on initial filing and will need to file an appeal of that decision. Do not attempt to navigate this process alone. Obtaining a hearing can involve a lengthy wait and a claimant should enter that hearing with a complete record. An attorney can assist with veterans’ issues and help obtain and submit the required documentation to prove a claim.