Burn Pits – Exposure While In Iraq and Afghanistan

Unfortunately for many veterans, burn pits may be the “Agent Orange” of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Open burn pits were used throughout Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of all sorts of trash, including among other things, vehicles and human waste.  Many veterans and military contractors were repeatedly exposed to the smoke and other fumes from this burning.

Dr. Anthony Szema’s Testimony About Burn Pits

The Veterans Administration has taken the position that there is insufficient evidence to show that there is any long term harm from this exposure.  However, Dr. Anthony Szema has testified that the materials being burned have been linked to a whole host of medical problems including neurological, reproductive and immune system disorders, liver and kidney diseases, and certain types of cancer.  Dr. Szema also mentioned that he noticed a trend in his practice of younger veterans developing “a variety of respiratory illnesses”.  You can read some of Dr. Szema’s testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee here.

No Current Presumptions About Burn Pit Related Disabilities

When they file for disability compensation benefits, veterans who served in Vietnam receive a presumption that they were exposed to Agent Orange and that certain medical conditions were caused by Agent Orange exposure.  The same is true for individuals who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who develop certain medical conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome, certain gastrointestinal disorders, and figbromyalgia among others.  However, there are currently no presumptions for individuals who develop conditions as a result of exposure to smoke and fumes from burn pits.

Proving A Disability Related To Burn Pit Exposure

The lack of a presumption does not mean that you cannot receive disability compensation benefits for a medical condition developed as a result of burn pit exposure.  Instead, it just means that you will have to demonstrate a nexus between your service-connected exposure and the disabling medical condition.   Our firm handles applications for disability compensation benefits for veterans and appeals for the denials of those applications.  If you would like a free consultation with one of our attorneys accredited to represent veterans in disability compensation claims, simply complete the “Need Help” form on this page or call the phone number on the right side of this page.