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Sen. Klobuchar introduces bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits

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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced a bill to help veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits.

While in Iraq and Afghanistan, people got rid of military waste by setting it on fire. According to the press release, the bases disposed of trash, tires, vehicle parts, human waste, chemicals and more in the burn pits.

When veterans came home, many reported having a cough and trouble breathing, KOAA says. Some veterans developed rare lung diseases and a few have died.

The respiratory problems have been linked to the burn pits, and Klobuchar says the bill – which she introduced with Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican representing North Carolina – will help veterans who have gotten sick following their service.

The Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act calls for veterans exposed to toxic pits to be treated for their health conditions. Additionally, the bill calls for better prevention and diagnosis.

Several groups have endorsed the bill, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Sergeant Sullivan Center, American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, and the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis.

However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says research doesn't prove that burn pit exposure causes any long-term health problems.

The V.A. does say toxins may affect people's skin, eyes, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and internal organs, but adds most of the irritation is temporary. The department notes that fine dust and pollution in Iraq and Afghanistan may cause more respiratory problems than the burn pits.

Klobuchar has also worked to update the G.I. Benefits Bill for troops and strengthen funding veteran healthcare as well as reduce veteran homelessness.

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