Jon Stewart Hugs Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits In Foreign Wars
Comedian and activist Jon Stewart gave a veteran a hug during a news conference on granting benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits at the VFW Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
Stewart joined lawmakers to announce legislation that would make it easier for veterans with diseases linked to burn pits to access Veterans Affairs benefits.
The phrase “burn pit” refers to an area of a deployed military base devoted to open-air burning of waste often using jet fuel as an accelerant.
“For those that have fought and defended and served this country, for them to come home and have to fight against the very government that they volunteered to defend is immoral,” Stewart said. “It’s unconscionable, and it’s easily remedied. And they don’t need to be put through another bureaucratic process and another clerical process, they don’t need another study to determine whether or not it might not be that healthy to burn everything in sight 24-hours a day, seven days a week, next to where you’re sleeping. We know it, because you’re not allowed to do it in the United States of America.”
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-California) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) were all in attendance at the event, standing with supporters and veterans in the crowd.
The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act no longer requires veterans to establish a direct service connection between their health condition and exposure in order to receive care. Instead, they would only need to suffer from a qualifying health condition and provide documentation that they served in the Global War on Terror or the Gulf War.
Burn pits are regularly used to dispose of waste in the U.S. military. The smoke from these fires have been said to release chemicals that link to cancers and respiratory illnesses. Approximately 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits according to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs.