Kevin Hensley, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran from Michigan, stands outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2022. Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Image.
The Fight For the Burn Pits Veterans Isn’t Over Yet

On July 28, 1932, the United States military attacked its own veterans.

The desperate former soldiers, who had survived the horrors of World War One, had dug in for months in Washington, DC to get the bonuses that had been promised to them by Uncle Sam. Yet instead of paying the money they were entitled to, the Hoover administration dispatched General Douglas McArthur, who led against them four troops of cavalry, four companies of infantry, a machine gun squadron, and six tanks.

Ninety years after the infamous attack on the Bonus Marchers, dozens of veterans camped out on the steps of the Capitol building for several days. These veterans were not routed, thankfully. Taking advantage of social media, strong public opinion, a celebrity megaphone (Jon Stewart), and decades of honed public advocacy skills, they left with what they came for: the biggest expansion of veterans’ health care in recent memory.

The PACT Act, which Joe Biden signed into law, identifies more than twenty illnesses tied to wartime toxic exposures, mostly due to (but not limited to) the burn pits that were used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. These burn pits were used to torch waste as well as plastic and rubber items, which emitted toxins into the air. Bottom line: if a veteran was stationed in Afghanistan and/or the Middle East during the Gulf War and post-9/11 eras, and is now suffering from one or more of these named illnesses — everything from brain cancer to chronic bronchitis — he is eligible for full health and disability compensation. The number of presumptive illnesses connected to Vietnam War-era service is also expanded in the PACT Act.

Read the full piece in Spectator World.

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