For one Connecticut veteran, some relief from the Department of Veterans Affairs is in sight. After two previous rejections from the VA, Peter Atioho will receive full VA disability benefits for the terminal brain cancer he alleges he developed as a result of exposure to toxic burn pits in Afghanistan.
Every day of his deployment in 2012, Mr. Antioho had to walk through heavy smoke from the burn pits. In the pits, plastic, ammunition, batteries, animal waste, and human waste were burned in open pits 24 hours each day. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer.
Advocates are urging Congress to pass legislation that would automatically assume a service connection between diseases and exposure to military burn pits. Without such laws, the VA has rejected 80% of burn pit claims filed since June 2007.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, regards the decision to award Mr. Antioho benefits as a step in the right direction for all burn pit sufferers: “[I]t also reflects a broader recognition that toxic and poisonous substances on the battlefield in burn pits and elsewhere can create wounds and injuries every bit as pernicious as bullets or explosions or other direct wounds of war.”