Thousands of U.S. troops are battling different cancers and respiratory illnesses. They all blame the toxic chemicals they were exposed to while were stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For years, these soldiers and their families have tried to get the U.S. Government to acknowledge what made them sick. At issue are the open air burn pits the military created in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Troops were ordered to get rid of all the waste in open pits. Everything from IED’S, human waste, even body parts were thrown into an open pit and set on fire with either diesel or jet fuel. More than 140 tons of waste were burned every day.
When Brian Alvarado of Long Beach wasn’t on patrol, he was assigned to supervising one of the many burn pits in the area. Shortly after his return from Iraq, he was struck with cancer of the head and neck. Brian is now a shell of the man he used to be. He has a tracheal tube, takes numerous medications and he struggles to communicate. His wife Rocio Tamayo says, “It’s not just cancers that these guys and ladies are coming back with but it’s also respiratory problems, bronchitis and real deep lung issues.”
A new documentary called 'Delay, Deny, Hope You Die, How America Poisoned It’s Soldiers', will be released later this year. It documents the thousands of troops who were affected by the burn pits created by the US military. Gregory Lovett is the film’s producer. He says, “These soldiers that I’ve talked to are frustrated, they’re upset. They feel like they’re not being taken care of.
They go to the VA with certain health conditions, the VA denies it.
It has nothing to do with their service and sometimes they are sent away with no treatment whatsoever.” Tamayo says, “We’re fighting, we’re advocating to get it recognized so that our veterans get taken care of financially, medically, because a lot of them are not being taken care of appropriately. They’re losing their jobs, their careers, they can’t support their families.” Some have lost their lives.
The website 'Burn Pits 360' lists the number of soldiers who’ve died. Soldiers who had no choice but to inhale toxic fumes on a daily basis while stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We just want the recognition from the Department Of Defense, the military and the Govt. to look into this,” says Tamayo.
While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs started an online registry to keep track of soldiers who believe they’ve been affected by the burn pits, the people we spoke with say, it’s simply not enough.
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