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Charleston Chapter – MOAA
Date Posted:05/25/20
This Story Expires on: 09/30/20
Here Are the 2020 2021 Post 9/11 GI Bill Rates

Date Posted:05/25/20
This Story Expires on: 09/30/20
Pell Grant Limits Increase, Student Loan Interest Rates Decrease for 2020 2021

Date Posted:05/25/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Some Stimulus Payments Are Coming in the Form of Debit Cards

Date Posted:05/14/20
This Story Expires on: 06/14/20
VA cemeteries will open to the public on Memorial Day, but wreath laying ceremonies will be closed

Date Posted:05/14/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Meet the First Lady of Space Force: An interview with Mollie Raymond

Date Posted:05/14/20
This Story Expires on: 08/15/20
2 Lowcountry military installations change command

Date Posted:05/13/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
'Astonishing': Veteran Military Pilots See First Survey Data on How Many Have Cancer

Date Posted:05/13/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Tricare Drops Telehealth Copays, Adds Phone Call Coverage in Emergency Measure

Date Posted:05/13/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
This new site is all about money for military spouses

Date Posted:05/13/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
How Trump honors our troops: A military wife’s perspective

Date Posted:05/13/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
VA Opens New Phone Line for Survivor Education Benefits

Date Posted:05/11/20
This Story Expires on: 08/31/20
Pentagon Lifts Onerous Proof Requirements for Student Military Survivor Benefits

Date Posted:05/11/20
This Story Expires on: 08/31/20
Tutor.com Extends Free Tutoring for Military Families

Date Posted:05/11/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Here's the VA's 3 Part Plan to Resume Full Services for Veterans

Date Posted:05/11/20
This Story Expires on: 08/31/20
Tricare Dental Plan Benefits and Coverage

Date Posted:05/07/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Tricare Limits Some Prescription Refills During Pandemic

Date Posted:05/07/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Trump signs second bill protecting GI Bill benefits amid coronavirus outbreak

Date Posted:05/01/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Military Commissaries Limit Meat Purchases Amid Supply Chain Worries

Date Posted:05/01/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
The Economic Stimulus Can Seriously Affect Your Retirement Funds

Date Posted:05/01/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Troops, Families Say They’re Worried About Planned Changes to Military Health System

Date Posted:04/24/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Thunderbirds, Blue Angels Team Up for Dramatic Salute to Coronavirus Responders

Date Posted:04/24/20
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
Tutor.com Extends Free Tutoring for Military Families

Date Posted:04/24/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Some Veterans Need to Fill Out This Form ASAP to Get Their Stimulus Payment

Date Posted:04/24/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
How to Get a New ID Card When Everything Is Shut Down

Date Posted:04/22/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Frameworks for dissent and principled resignation in the US military: A primer

Date Posted:04/22/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
New Agreement Will Make it Easier for Doctors to Access Military, Veteran Health Records

Date Posted:04/22/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
New House bill would grant Gold Star families access to commissary, base recreation

Date Posted:04/21/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
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Date Posted:04/21/20
This Story Expires on: 06/14/20
35,000 Military Retirees Will Soon See a Tricare Refund

Date Posted:04/16/20
This Story Expires on: 06/14/20
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Date Posted:04/16/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
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Date Posted:04/13/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Everything You Need to Know About Tricare and National Guard and Reserve Activation

Date Posted:04/08/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Tricare Must Waive Coronavirus Test Visit Copays, But Not Off Base Pharmacy Fees

Date Posted:04/08/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Pentagon Extends ID Card Expiration Dates, Allows Mail Order for Some

Date Posted:04/07/20
This Story Expires on: 06/14/20
Retirees, Active Duty Families Could Be Barred from Military Pharmacies over Pandemic

Date Posted:04/07/20
This Story Expires on: 06/14/20
Some Veterans May Need to Take This Extra Step to Get Their Stimulus Check

Date Posted:04/03/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
Trump says VA won’t collect debts, will extend benefits deadlines amid coronavirus outbreak

Date Posted:03/23/20
This Story Expires on: 06/30/20
VA suspends funeral honors, large gatherings at cemeteries due to coronavirus

Date Posted:02/08/20
This Story Expires on: 11/15/20
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Date Posted:10/11/19
This Story Expires on: 09/30/20
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Date Posted:10/03/19
This Story Expires on: 07/31/20
VA Releases Survivors Quick Start Guide

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Lawmakers to VA: Provide Health Care to All Veterans Made Sick by Burn Pits
Posted on: 09/06/19
This Story Expires on: 11/30/19


A soldier watches over the civilian fire fighters at the burn pit as smoke and flames rise into the night sky behind him at Camp Fallujah, Iraq on May 25th, 2007. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Samuel D. Corum)


A bipartisan group of congressmen is pressuring the Department of Veterans Affairs to extend health benefits and disability compensation automatically to veterans battling illnesses thought to be caused by exposure to open-air burn pits.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida, and Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-California, have both introduced legislation that would direct the VA to study illnesses thought to be related to exposure to the toxic fumes emitted by waste disposal sites in Iraq and Afghanistan and designate any linked illnesses as presumed to be caused by exposure, thereby automatically qualifying affected veterans for VA health care and disability benefits.

Both also have signed on to support each other's bills, while Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas; Rep. Peter King, R-New York; and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, have thrown support behind Ruiz's bill.

Bilirakis, who introduced the same measure in 2018, said the government needs to heed the lessons of Vietnam veterans, who fought nearly 20 years to establish a presumptive service link for exposure to Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides.

Related: After Mandate From Congress, VA Opens Research Center for Burn-Pit Related Illnesses

"It's not a coincidence that so many of the exposed veterans are all suffering from the same diseases," Bilirakis said in a statement last month. "We saw similar patterns with veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange in earlier wars. Sadly, many of those veterans died while the VA took decades to study the issue."

Ruiz named his bill after Air Force Staff Sgt. Jennifer Kepner, a medic who served in Iraq in 2004 and died in 2017 of pancreatic cancer, which her family said was caused by exposure to the massive 10-acre burn pit at Balad.

Kepner left behind a nine-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, as well as her husband, Ben Kepner.

"At the beginning of the fight, we were denied care and help from the VA, not once, but twice. When you are going through that nightmare, the last thing you want is letters from the VA saying, 'There is nothing we can do,'" Kepner said in a statement released by Ruiz's office.

"Jennifer Kepner was a hero who courageously battled pancreatic cancer while fighting for her fellow veterans suffering from pulmonary conditions and rare cancers linked to burn pit exposure," Ruiz said. "[Her] empathy and courage continue to inspire me in this fight for our veterans to get the health care and benefits they have earned and deserve."

Either bill would have to survive the lengthy legislative process to become law, but there is a growing lobbying effort among veterans service organizations, as well as support among members of Congress to help service members with respiratory diseases, cancer and other debilitating illnesses their physicians say were caused by environmental exposures.

The VA has not designated any illnesses as presumed to be related uniquely to service in Iraq or Afghanistan, with the exception of Gulf War veterans who served in Southwest Asia. Medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses, often referred to collectively as Gulf War Syndrome, are considered service-related.

In addition, any personnel diagnosed with a chronic disease within a year of leaving active duty are encouraged to apply for disability compensation, as their illnesses are likely to be service-related, and those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, automatically qualify for health care and benefits.

In 2011, an arm of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed all existing scientific literature and available data on burn pits and occupational exposure to smoke and found that there was insufficient evidence to connect any illnesses in veterans to burn pit exposure.

The organization also found, however, that air quality and pollutant data taken and kept by the Defense Department and military services in Iraq and Afghanistan was scant or incomplete.

At their peak, the Defense Department and military contractors ran 250 burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of garbage, industrial waste, hospital discards and trash. As of March 2019, nine remained active -- seven in Syria, one in Afghanistan and one in Egypt.

Pentagon officials said the pits are being used to dispose of waste during short-term contingency operations and areas where the infrastructure or contract support is not available for waste disposal, and the need or expense of installing an incinerator or landfill is unwarranted.

The VA maintains a national registry, the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, of veterans exposed to burn pits. Roughly 185,000 service members have signed into the database.

By Patricia Kime



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