What is a Burn Pit?
A burn pit is an area devoted to open-air burning of trash and you can receive VA Compensation for burn pit exposure. During U.S. operations in countries such as Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, the military commonly used burn pits for waste disposal. It was a very efficient way to get rid of large amounts of waste. The largest pit was about 20 acres long .
These burn pits disposed of various materials, such as:
- Human waste
- Body parts
- Medical waste
- Unexploded ordinance
- Plastics and Styrofoam
Smoke from these pits contained toxins that may lead to serious health conditions. This is especially true for those who had prolonged exposure. This includes service members who personally dumped waste into a burn pit. In addition, those with pre-existing respiratory conditions were especially sensitive to the smoke.
VA compensation is a monthly payment to veterans for disabilities related to service. However, VA will not start the process for you. You must first file a claim.
To win VA compensation, a veteran must satisfy the 3 basic elements of a VA claim:
- In-service event, disease or injury,
- Current diagnosis of a disability, and
- Medical nexus between the first 2 elements.
The first step is to prove you were exposed to burn pits during your active duty service. If you served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations, then your DD Form 214 should confirm this. Absent official service records, obtain statements from buddies who witnessed your exposure to burn pits.
Second, the veteran must have a current disability. The time between exposure and diagnosis will vary based on several factors. For example, the toxins from burned human waste may affect the body differently than those from burned Styrofoam.
Even so, a short-term adverse reaction to the smoke is not enough. Shortly after burn pit exposure, many veterans develop medical conditions. However, many do not develop disabilities until years after discharge.
Third, VA requires proof that the condition you suffer from today was caused or aggravated during service. This usually takes the form of a medical nexus letter. Only a medical professional should write a disability nexus letter. In limited circumstances, non-doctors such as physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners can write them. However, VA will find a disability nexus letter more persuasive if written by a doctor in the relevant specialty.
Does Every Burn Pit Claim Need a Medical Nexus Letter?
Not every burn pit claim needs a nexus letter because in some cases, the link to service is undeniable. For example, if your service records note a disability you still suffer from today, then VA would probably grant a claim for that disability without a nexus letter. As of August 2021, VA will concede that burn pit exposure causes certain health conditions. These are known as burn pit presumptive conditions.
New presumptive conditions, you can receive VA Compensation for burn pit exposure.
On August 5, 2021, VA issued a new rule to remove the medical nexus requirement for 3 conditions:
- Rhinitis, and
This rule removes the medical nexus requirement for certain veterans. But that’s not all. It also makes it easier to prove burn pit exposure. For veterans with a qualifying period of service, VA no longer requires specific proof of burn pit exposure to burn pits. If you served in the Gulf War, Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan, then you qualify. In those cases, all you need to prove is a current diagnosis.
Why does VA keep denying my burn pit claim?
VA has been slow to recognize the science linking serious conditions to burn pit exposure. Because the decision-makers don’t see a link, they tend to deny the claims.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs recently talked about this . He conceded that many vets have come home with ailments that their doctors believe are a result of burn pit exposure. VA has recognized burn pits cause asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis. However, VA has yet to accept the scientific link to many more serious conditions.
Secretary McDonough cited a critical example. A female veteran was trying to stay healthy in Fallujah, Iraq. She went running daily around a burn pit. When she informed her doctor, he said she should get tested early for breast cancer. It turned out she had stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 38. The science indicated she was way too young to have such an advanced stage cancer.
When VA denies a claim, the veteran can file an appeal. However, appeals can take years to win. With such an advanced cancer, this veteran may not survive before VA decides the appeal. This is grossly unfair to veterans who served our country with honor.
Are you entitled to VA compensation for burn pit exposure? The experts at Disability Help Group are standing by. Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652.
You can receive VA Compensation for burn pit exposure.
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