On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed into law a measure to improve health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving overseas.
According to reports, one of the reasons Biden signed the law was because his late son, Beau Biden, died of cancer after serving in Kosovo and Iraq.
The White House said in a statement that Biden believes our nation has a sacred obligation to properly prepare and equip the troops we send into harm’s way—and to care for them and their families when they return home.
It was learned that burn pits were used in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of chemicals, cans, tires, plastics, medical equipment, and human waste.
However, sadly, 70% of disability claims involving exposure to the pits were denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The law will direct officials to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers are related to burn pit exposure, helping veterans get disability payments without proving the illness resulting from their service.
The Senate passed the bill last week after Republicans briefly held it up in a spat over the unrelated Democratic push for a climate and spending bill.
The newly signed legislation is expected to cost about $280 billion over the next decade.
Moreover, the new legislation also benefits Vietnam War veterans, adding hypertension to the list of ailments presumed to be caused by Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the U.S. military to clear vegetation.
Aside from them, veterans who served during the war in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll will also be considered to have been exposed to the chemical.
The new law is considered the largest expansion of veterans’ health care over three decades, but it became an unlikely political football shortly before it passed.