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Bill aims to help soldiers exposed to toxic fumes in service

Posted March 16

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— Sen. Thom Tillis is co-sponsoring a bill to take care of thousands of service members who have been exposed to toxic fumes from open pit burns.

Members of the military who served all of the Gulf War Operations in Iraq, and those who served in Afghanistan, may have been exposed during their tours of duty.

Burn pits are a way to get rid of trash in a war zone and soldiers in close proximity to them were often subjected to fumes filled with ammunition, tires, lithium batteries or asbestos installation.

Military members who served in Djibouti, Africa on, or after, Sept. 11 2011, or anyone who served in the Southwest Asia Theater on, or after, Aug. 2, 1990 may also have been exposed.

Tillis’ bill is designed to identify service members who may have been exposed and make sure they’re able to get treatment in the VA Medical System.

“You have people who are standing watch while they’re completing the task,” Tillis said. “And that’s where the potential exposure comes from.”

So far, more than 61,000 members of the military have been to the site and completed the registry and questionnaire since April 2014.

“We expect our soldiers to be ready to move in a moment’s notice,” Tillis said. “This is our opportunity to prove that we should move the minute we identify a potential threat.”

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