President Obama has signed legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a registry for service members and veterans who lived and worked near open-air burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas. The provision, which DAV strongly supported, is part of the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans Benefits Improvement Act, S. 3202.
The new law seeks to determine the number of veterans who may have been exposed to burn-pit smoke so the VA can track their medical histories and keep them apprised of new treatments for associated conditions. Troops deployed in support of contingency operations and stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used will be eligible to register, as well.
“DAV has been in the forefront of efforts to track veterans exposed to burn pits and other environmental hazards so they can get needed health care and other benefits they may be eligible for,” said National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson. “This is a long-overdue step in the right direction.”
The measure also requires the VA to provide a casket or urn for veterans with no known next of kin and provides funds to care for a military cemetery in the Philippines.
The President also has signed legislation that provides veterans better access to the resources they need to pursue a quality education. The Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act will helps student veterans get the very best out of their education benefits.