N.C. veterans, Jon Stewart showing support for the “Honoring our Past Act”

The Department of Defense has estimated nearly 3.5 million troops from recent wars may have suffered health effects from these pits.
An invisible danger now haunts them, and for many veterans, it’s proving deadly.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 10:03 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - An invisible danger now haunts them, and for many veterans, it’s proving deadly.

Until the mid-2010s, burn pits were commonly used in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas locations to dispose of waste collected on military bases.

That included items that produced dangerous toxic smoke when burned, such as plastics, rubber, chemical mixtures and medical waste.

In 2008, Military Times began reporting service members returning from war zones with unusual respiratory illnesses they believed were linked to the toxic fumes.

Since then, numerous studies and reports have suggested links between the poor air quality and rare cancers found in increasing numbers of post-9/11 veterans.

The Department of Defense has estimated nearly 3.5 million troops from recent wars may have suffered health effects from these pits.

Marine veteran Kate Hendricks Thomas never imagined a battle with stage four breast cancer.

The 41-year-old learned of her diagnosis more than a decade after returning home from Iraq.

“I was seeing my nurse practitioner for an annual exam and she said ‘I want you to go get a mammogram based on where you’ve been stationed’” Hendricks Thomas said. “The radiologist said it looked like I had been dipped in something.”

It’s a brutal reality that our servicemen and women who have risked their lives for our freedom are dying because of this. It’s led to a call for action to be taken to help their families.

On Thursday, North Carolina veterans came together in downtown Wilmington to call on Congress to pass a bill called the PACT Act, which would help support vets exposed to dangerous toxins while serving overseas.

They were joined by a special guest --- comedian and veteran advocate Jon Stewart -- calling on Senator Richard Burr and the rest of Congress to provide help for veterans impacted by burn pit toxins on foreign battlefields.

The PACT Act would provide full presumptive coverage for these veterans.

It passed through the House last month, but now it must get through the Senate

More information can be read HERE.

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