ARLINGTON, Va. (NewsNation Now) — As Americans across the country pay tribute to those who’ve served in the U.S. Armed Services, President Joe Biden marked Veterans Day by visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Biden, the father of an Iraq War veteran, is also using his first Veterans Day in office to announce an effort to better understand, treat and identify medical conditions suffered by troops deployed to toxic environments.
Biden’s new effort centers on lung problems suffered by troops who breathe in toxins and the potential connection between rare respiratory cancers and time spent overseas breathing poor air, according to senior White House officials. Federal officials plan to start by examining lung and breathing problems but said they will expand the effort as science identifies potential new connections.
The new federal effort is also designed to make it easier for veterans to make claims based on their symptoms, to collect more data from troops who are suffering and to give veterans more time to make medical claims after symptoms such as asthma and sinus problems develop.
The U.S. military has been aware for years of the health risks associated with open-air burn pits. In 2013, federal investigators found a military camp in Afghanistan was operating a pit for more than five years, nearly four times longer than Pentagon rules allowed. The Defense Department has said burn pits should only be used as a temporary last resort when no other alternative trash disposal method is feasible, yet they persisted for years.