To advocate on behalf of Veterans exposed to the toxic, cancer causing effects of burn pit exposure during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, talk show host and now filmmaker Jon Stewart will head to Washington D.C. as an advocate.
Stewart, who spoke up in Washington for first responders and victims from 9/11 last year, teamed up with Rosie Torres, founder of Burn Pits 360, and Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) coalition, including Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), to bring more attention to legislators on behalf of the victims.
Others Stewart brought to the table include friend and advocate John Feal, who founded the Feal Good Foundation. Feal who was injured after a falling steel beam landed on his foot during 9/11 which resulted in partial amputation but because the injury occurred just outside of a 96-hour window following the attack, he was denied compensation. The foundation is dedicated toward lobbying members of the U.S. Congress to provide additional funding to 9/11 responders, as well as connecting responders with various resources.
The coalition is pressuring Congress for a new bill, listing burn pit exposure as a presumptive condition that will help an estimated 200,000 veterans who have fallen ill to extended exposure to burn pits.
It all boils down to money, just like with the victims of 9/11, Stewart told FOX News: “This is money. That’s it. And when you have an F-35 that may never be and it’s gonna be a cost overrun of about $1.4 trillion battle-ready and you’re gas-lighting your own veterans on their health conditions because you don’t want to pay for it?”
“We always have money to make war,” Stewart told a reporter for MOAA in January. “We need to always have money to take care of what happens to people who are selfless enough, patriotic enough, to wage those wars on our behalf.”
“The most important piece in all this [is] the people on the ground who go through it, and those who have to advocate for them — the families, the caregivers,” said Stewart, whose father was a veteran of the Korean War. “Their voices get lost in a lot of this legislative process. My goal with this is to make sure their voices are the ones that are amplified, because they are going to be the voices that are most effective. No one can tell your stories like you can.”
The pits, used at most military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, used jet fuel as the accelerant.
The pits, used at most military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, used jet fuel as the accelerant. This leads to prolonged exposure to the toxic fumes being breathed into the lungs of nearby troops at the base.
Years later, lung cancer or other forms of cancer may develop but the government and the VA systematically denies responsibility.
Of course, the government denying responsibility is nothing new. It took until 2005 for the Department of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge that Monsanto’s Agent Orange — a herbicide sprayed over 4.5 million acres across Vietnam during the conflict — was responsible for health ailments in approximately 2,100 veterans, after denying it for 40 years.
It took until 2019 for the government to pass The Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (PL 116-23) which finally extended benefits from Agent Orange exposure to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.
The pattern of big government is very clear — the state will do what it wants with total disregard for the soldiers and sailors. In the interest of saving money, once veterans begin falling ill, they will deny, deny, deny until the victims voices get loud enough and strong enough to be heard.
Sometimes that takes special voices such as celebrities to help the cause. Like his political views or not, Jon Stewart is stepping up once again to help when it counts.