MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new bill that passed the Senate Monday evening will recognize a major health crisis facing thousands of U.S. military members.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, say more than 100,000 people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed to burn pits.
It’s believed the toxic smoke from the trash fires exposed veterans to chemicals that may cause health problems, like cancer and emphysema. Some have even died.
We first brought you the story of Amie Muller, a 36-year-old veteran and mom of three.
She died of pancreatic cancer but her family thought this wasn’t just bad luck — it was because Muller had worked near burn pits during her time in Iraq.
The pits were filled with toxic waste — chemicals, paint, aluminum cans, petroleum, among other things, were constantly burned.
Klobuchar had been looking into the possible health effects of these pits when she heard about Amie Muller, a beloved wife and mother who was exposed to the pits in 2005 and 2007.
The senator sponsored a bill that is part of the big defense bill and passed the Senate Monday night.
This bill will ensure that the VA has new equipment and protocol to identify and treat burn pit exposure. It’s a bill she hopes will honor Amie Muller.
“The first call I am going to make tonight is to her husband who just has stood by her through her illness and since the illness has called me — since she died has called me a number of times to ask me what happened with the bill. And so that’s going to be a great moment to be able to call him right after it passes,” Klobuchar said Monday from D.C.
The bill will now go to the House. The senator feels confident it will pass there, too. Klobuchar also helped establish a national veteran registry that can better track the health effects they are facing.