(KTVI)– Returning U.S. soldiers continue waiting for a new tracking system that will help victims of burn pits. Burn pits are toxic landfills that were commonly burned on military bases. Investigative reporter Chris Hayes revealed the dangerous practice several years ago and explains how V.A. doctors struggle to keep up with the damage.
Veterans have new hope in a burn pit registry, signed into law this past January. The registry will track sicknesses and get answers for many vets who are dying. But it may not begin for months and no one seems to know how it`s going to work.
In the thick of battle, soldiers don`t think about what may kill them 20 years later.
War veteran Dave Hoban said, “Your’e worried about dodging bullets, rocket propelled grenades, all those things — the imminent dangers.”
Hoban said he barely paid attention to the toxic smoke from burn pits. Fox 2 exposed them in 2010, when it was still a common military practice to burn toxic waste on military bases, using jet fuel.
Hoban said, “I`m 31 years old and my lungs are basically like a 70 to an 80 year old who has smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.” Hayes asked, “Are you a smoker?” Hoban exclaimed, “No, ahhh.”
Hoban says he sufferes black outs and seizures and doesn`t hear much hope from doctors. He added, “II can`t have surgery because my lungs, they believe I`ll die.”
Veterans give consistent stories about V.A. doctors who struggle to give answers. Part of the blame may lie with the Department of Defense, which for years, reportedly hid documents showing the risks. A former V.A. epidemiologist recently told Congressmen that the government lied to soldiers about burn pit hazards. This past March, 2013, Dr. Steve Coughlin said, “In the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible.”
The burn pit registry could turn around veteran health care. Hoban explained, “Absolutely important. Young men are coming back and have no idea.”
Even if it`s too late for him, Hoban hopes doctors can learn enough from tracking burn pit victims to treat thousands of other veterans.
However, the V.A still doesn`t know how this registry will work. It’s not even included in thise year’s budget despite the fact the registry must be set up by January 10th of 2014. A V.A. spokesperson told me that’s because the budget was put together before this registry became law and she assured me the V.A. is working on it.
FOX Files: Congressman Todd Akin Pushes for Burn Pit Registry
Burn Pit Registry Moves Forward
President Obama Signs Burn Pit Law, FOX2 Exposed
Join Chris on Twitter <http://twitter.com/ChrisHayesTV>