Red Bank resident Jon Stewart among those in fight for aid for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits

A new push is being made to help veterans suffering from diseases linked to burn pits and other toxic exposures, with Red Bank resident Jon Stewart at the forefront of trying to making the change stick.

News 12 Staff

Sep 16, 2020, 12:06 PM

Updated 1,398 days ago

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A new push is being made to help veterans suffering from diseases linked to burn pits and other toxic exposures, with Red Bank resident Jon Stewart at the forefront of trying to making the change stick.
Stewart was joined by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Nesconset resident John Feal and others to urge Congress to pass a new bill that would streamline the process for vets in obtaining VA benefits linked to their service.
"We built burn pits, some of them 10 acres,” says Stewart. “They burn 24/7. Everything. Every hazardous waste was piled into them, and what's the common ingredient? Jet fuel. Jet fuel as the accelerant at Ground Zero. Jet fuel as the accelerant in these burn pits."
Sen. Gillibrand says all service members would have to do to receive care is submit evidence of deployment to one of 34 countries named in the bill.
"It's not about science,” says Sen. Gillibrand. “It's about money. They don't want to do this for these veterans, because they think it's too expensive. We always have money for war. We never have money for the war fighter."
About 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group says the VA is denying benefits to veterans with conditions linked to burn pits and other toxins.
"Hundreds of thousands of them, and they come home and they're left to advocate on their own, and it's unacceptable,” says Stewart.
Stewart, who in the past took to Congress to plead for help for 9/11 first responders, slammed lawmakers for failing to aid veterans.
"They don't want to do this for these veterans because they think it's too expensive," says Stewart. "We always have money for war. But we never have money for the warfighters."
Danielle Robinson was in attendance Tuesday. Her husband Heath died in May because of his time fighting in Iraq. Robinson says her husband developed lung cancer from breathing in the toxins.
"Thanks to our top military officials deciding not to properly dispose of trash in Iraq due to inconvenience and expense," she says.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says there is no evidence supporting claims of illnesses linked to burn pits. 


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