WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — It’s been a long road in the fight for health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits overseas, but one of the benefit’s biggest proponents was on Capitol Hill on Thursday continuing that fight.
For the last two years, comedian and activist Jon Stewart has been fighting on behalf of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, advocating for those exposed to toxic burn pits. Many of them have been denied health care by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
An estimated 3.5 million veterans may have been exposed to toxic fumes and carcinogens from burn pits, according to the VA.
The military used these open-air firepits to dispose of waste in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many vets now say they suffer from debilitating respiratory problems, even rare cancers, and they say the government is not doing enough to help.
Stewart wants Congress to ensure veterans won’t have to show proof the illnesses they’re battling were service-connected. So far, Stewart — and the group he’s fighting for — aren’t getting the results they are demanding.
“We’re not asking. We’re not begging. We’re demanding,” said activist John Feal.
Stewart said the congressional meetings were productive and his group is pushing for a vote by the end of the year. Senate sources say that’s more likely to happen in January 2022, at the earliest.
“I don’t want to have any generation (have) to do this. But we’re up here today because war fighters are dying because you’ve sent us to war for 20 years in your name. And now they’re coming back and they’re sick and they’re dying of these very particular cancers,” said veteran Isiah James.
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