HomeWashington Letter2016 ▶ ATS Supports Legislation to Help Veterans with Respiratory Illnesses
ATS Supports Legislation to Help Veterans with Respiratory Illnesses

April 2016

Last week, the ATS sent letters to all members of the House and Senate urging their support for bipartisan legislation to help veterans with respiratory illnesses.  The legislation, the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, H.R. 2237/S. 2679, sponsored by Rep. Esty (D-CA) and Sens. Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tillis (R-SC), would help thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, who were exposed to burn pits and other environmental exposures, get the treatment they need and expand research on these conditions. The legislation would create Centers of Excellence within the VA medical care system to treat these veterans and conduct research on how to better prevent, detect, treat and cure veterans with burn pit and other respiratory conditions.

In 2011, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were returning with a rare lung disease known as constrictive bronchiolitis.  In response, the VA created the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which allows veterans to self-report military environmental exposures and illness and by 2015, nearly 46,000 veterans had completed the survey questionnaire with 27,378 reporting burn pit exposure. Of those exposed to burn pits, 30 percent have been diagnosed with respiratory conditions, other than allergies, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis and constrictive bronchiolitis.

Last Reviewed: October 2017