MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits is moving forward.
Klobuchar joined Minnesota veterans and their families on Friday to highlight the need for a center of excellence. If her legislation is passed, it would assist understanding the health effects and find treatments for veterans exposed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Klobuchar has championed for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s where the military burned waste like chemicals, batteries, munitions and used accelerants like jet fuel.
“It has become clear there are questions that demand answers about the toll toxic burn pits is taking on our nations heroes,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar believes it is our responsibility to take care of our veterans.
“What shouldn’t be happening is that they get sick from things that aren’t actually related to combat that are hazards that they encounter because we put them there,” Klobuchar said.
She brought together people affected by the exposure. Brian Muller’s wife Amie, a 36-year-old mother of three, died in February after bravely battling pancreatic cancer. During her two tours in Iraq with the Minnesota Air National Guard she was exposed to one of the most notorious burn pits.
“We had a lot of plans together, a lot of dreams a lot of hopes, but she would be pretty proud of what’s going on,” Muller said.
Doctors diagnosed Ryan Braaten with asthma while serving overseas. His health has only deteriorated.
“Many days now I end up crawling on the floor because physically it’s almost impossible to stand,” Braaten said.
That’s why Klobuchar pushes to pass what she calls critical legislation.
“They went forward knowing the risk of combat but we have a duty to make sure that they are safe and they don’t bring the war home, and if they do bring the war home with them that we do everything to help them,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar’s bill, the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, was folded into the National Defense Authorization Act authored by Sen. John McCain. It passed the Senate earlier this month. She believes it will go on to pass the House and will be signed into law.
Nearly 118,000 veterans are on a national registry to document their exposures and concerns.