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Here’s What You Need To Know About A New Ruling Linking Burn Pits And Lung Disease
A recent court decision by an administrative law judge for the Department of Labor found burn-pit exposure was linked to lung disease in a federal contractor’s case, Fox News reported on Thursday.
The case quickly fueled hopes among military veterans that the Department of Veterans Affairs may follow the ruling’s lead.
For years, veterans’ advocates have been pushing the VA to adopt burn-pit exposure as a presumptive-service connected disability, assumed to have been caused by serving in a specific area, during a period of time, under a certain set of circumstances. Instead, veterans’ burn-pit exposure claims are handled, slowly, on a case-by-case basis.
For the more than 130,000 veterans who have submitted their names to the VA’s burn pit registry, this most recent case won’t have much of an impact on the department’s current policy. Here’s why.
The decision, made in a U.S. Department of Labor Office for Worker’s Compensation Programs case, blamed open-air burn pits where waste, hardware, uniforms, and other various flotsam were burned across military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan for respiratory problems and lung disease in federal contractors who filed the suit, Fox reports.
While this case could be a boon for federal contractors, the court ruling does not set a precedent for the VA, experts say.
“We don’t think it will impact the VA under Title 38 at all,” Ken Wiseman, the Veterans of Foreign Wars associate director for national legislative service, told Task & Purpose, referring to the federal statute covering the department’s benefits and medical care policies.
“That decision was made by an administrative law judge in a fund under the Department of Labor,” Wiseman said. Decisions made in those cases have no legal precedence the way a federal circuit court ruling would.
However, “It is likely that defense contractors will be aware of this decision, and, therefore, they may be more willing to settle claims such as this,” Doug Jackson, a veterans disability law attorney, told Task & Purpose. “This is a much bigger win for the civilian personnel involved in war than it is for the military personnel.”
That’s not to say the ruling doesn’t do anything to help veterans, advocates and lawyers seeking to change the VA’s stance on burn pit exposure.
Wiseman said the ruling reinforces “research already conducted associating exposure to burn pits and numerous conditions, including several that are lethal.”
Eventually, these rulings and reports can create a tipping point in policy — and in the meantime, they could add urgency to vets’ individual burn-pit claims at the VA: “Cancers and other problems,” Wiseman said, “don’t discriminate between civilians and service members.”
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.