Msgt. Jessey Baca
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall welcomed news that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which he was instrumental in creating through bipartisan legislation.
Similar to the Agent Orange and Gulf War registries, the burn pit registry will enable the VA to track service members and veterans exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will help the VA and doctors to better assess the health of veterans and determine to what extent air pollution from burn pits caused diseases and medical conditions in service members.
Udall became a strong advocate of creating a burn pit registry after meeting Albuquerque veteran MSgt. Jessey Baca, who has faced a multitude of health problems believed to be associated with fumes he inhaled from burn pits while serving in Iraq. Udall and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. wrote the original Open Burn Pit Registry Act signed into law by President Obama in January 2013.
Udall issued the following statement:
“On behalf of Jessey Baca and thousands of other veterans battling serious illnesses after exposure to toxic fumes from open air burn pits, I am very pleased to see the VA’s registry up and running. Jessey and his wife Maria have been incredible partners in this effort. He and his fellow service members answered our call to serve without hesitation, and starting today, we can finally help answer their call for better information. Our veterans deserve an honest assessment of their health needs. I encourage all eligible service men and women who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout Southwest Asia to participate in the registry, so that the VA and the medical community can use it as a resource to provide the care that veterans across the country have earned and deserve.”
For years, service members at U.S. military installations in Afghanistan and Iraq relied on open burn pits to dispose of waste materials, which resulted in service members inhaling toxic fumes. According to the VA, waste products in burn pits include chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam.
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is available online at https://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home. Veterans who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Southwest Asia are encouraged to sign up and participate.