Burn-pit exposure has been deemed the “Agent Orange of our time.” It leads to a variety of dangerous illnesses, including brain cancer and lung damage. Mirroring its response to Agent Orange-related illnesses, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (“VA”) has repeatedly refused to label illnesses associated with burn-pit exposure as presumptive – leaving many veterans to suffer without access to health-care benefits or disability compensation.
Thankfully, there is promising news for veterans who were exposed to burn pits. First, Dr. Harrell of Palm Harbor, Florida has released a new treatment for veterans with burn-pit related lung damage. Second, Congressman Bilirakis of Florida has begun pushing for the VA to label burn-pit related illnesses as presumptive.
The Effects of Burn Pit Exposure
Burn pits, which are used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of waste, have dangerous effects on servicemembers' health. Those who are exposed often suffer from damage to the lungs – easily becoming short of breath or finding it difficult to breathe all together. As Dr. Harrell stated, veterans with burn-pit exposure are often 20 or 30 years old, and yet have the lungs of a 70 year old.
Florida’s Dr. Harrell Creates a Revolutionary New Treatment Method to Stimulate Lung Regeneration
Dr. Harrell created an innovative new treatment to stimulate lung regeneration in veterans with burn-pit exposure. The treatment is relatively simple to administer, requiring a series of three five-minute sessions. During each session, the veteran inhales growth factors which stimulate her or his stem cells and encourage regeneration. One Army veteran who tried the treatment, Joe Hernandez, said he immediately felt better.
Congressman Bilirakis Wants to Ensure Health Care and Disability Benefits for Veterans with Burn Pit Exposure
While Dr. Harrell’s treatment is promising, many veterans are unable to take advantage of it because they either haven't applied for VA benefits or have received an adverse claim determination. If the VA were to make burn-pit exposure-related illnesses presumptive, health-care benefits and disability compensation would be ensured for all veterans who were exposed.
The move to presumptive status is underway. One bill, HR 1279 Helping Vets Exposed to Burn Pits Act, is currently pending. Congressman Bilirakis hopes to introduce an additional bill this month.
How to Win Disability Benefits for a Non-Presumptive Condition
While presumptive status would certainly make it easier for veterans to win benefits, it is possible to win benefits without presumptive status, particularly with the help of an experienced Veterans' law attorney.
If you have delayed applying for benefits because you are afraid you will be denied, we encourage you to apply through your regional office (“RO”) immediately. After all, you served, and you absolutely deserve your veterans’ benefits. If your claim is denied or you receive an unacceptable rating decision, we are here to help. With decades of combined experience overturning RO denials, we are confident we can get you the benefits you deserve. When you receive your RO decision, send us a note or give us a call at (877) 629-1712 to discuss the potential for an appeal.