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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Human Cost of the Military’s Toxic Burn Pits

Today's post is shared from and is authored by Matthew Gault.

Jason Dawson joined the Marines in 2003 and went to Iraq in 2006. He deployed to Al Asad air base in Anbar province where he was part of a crash, fire and rescue team.

When his tour finished, he stayed and became a civilian contractor—a firefighter.

He liked the pay and the work, but he didn’t like the burn pits. Al Asad maintained a large, open-air ditch filled with burning garbage. It’s how the base disposed of all its waste.

“Some mornings I remember waking up … and I could smell the burn pits,” he says.

Dawson stayed in Al Asad for three years, and the whole time he dealt with toxic fumes. Since coming home, he’s developed several mysterious health problems doctors can’t seem to diagnose.

Dawson—who is a personal friend—is not alone. Thousands of returning soldiers and civilians reported various health problems after coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many suspect prolonged exposure to the burn pits are the cause.

What didn’t help is that the military’s efforts to clean up the burn pits were half-hearted at best, and negligent at worst. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

In the report, the congressionally-mandated watchdog details taxpayer cash wasted trying to close the Pentagon’s burn pits.

But worse than the monetary waste is how...

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  have been representing injured military, government contractors and civilian government employees and their families who have suffered illness or injury as a result of burn pit exposures. To contact Jon L Gelman click here.