RICHMAND, Virginia (WRIC) – The U.S. Senate has passed bipartisan legislation to expand the medical coverage of veterans exposed to toxic burns. But some believe it is not far enough.
Hot pits are a common way for the military to get rid of human waste, chemicals and hazardous materials in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Virginia veterans, such as Senior Sergeant Brian Graves, who served missions in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force, have long argued that toxic smoke caused their illness.
“I’ve been suffering from bronchitis over and over again,” Graves said in a video he shared with the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs. He said he lives with breathing problems and illness.
“We haven’t done a full job to ensure these veterans get the health care they deserve,” said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
Warner has backed a new bill that will expand the Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs’s health coverage to separate troops from five years after dismissal to ten years. The bill also provides for more examinations of patients for toxic effects.
“They have a solemn promise from the United States that their health will be taken care of,” Warner said.
However, some veteran groups say no veteran should be denied care, regardless of whether he served 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
John Phil, President of the Fealgood Foundation and a national advocate of benefits on scorched pits spoke on Twitter to blow up the Senate, saying:
«@ JohnFeal2 @ johnfeal2 @SenatorTester & @JerryMoran you apply the patch to an open chest wound with your hernia legislation. These men and women demand the best, deserve the best, earn better, and you let them down! I will dedicate my life to making you fail again! ”
The House of Representatives will pass the bill before it enters President Joe Biden’s table. Another bill is under consideration by deputies in the House of Representatives “Law on Honoring Our Pact”. Fealgood believes it can do more to help veterans.