Biden signs landmark bill aiding veterans exposed to burn pits overseas

Via Wisconsin Examiner:

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed legislation into law Wednesday that will provide health care and benefits to veterans exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq, achieving a long-term, personal goal.

“I was in and out of Iraq over 20 times,” Biden said of prior trips to the war zone he took as both a U.S. senator and as vice president. “And you could actually see some of it in the air — burn pits the size of football fields, and incinerated waste of war such as tires, poisonous chemicals, jet fuel, and so much more I won’t even mention.”

“When they came home, many of the fittest and best warriors that we sent to war were not the same,” Biden added. “Headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer. My son Beau was one of them.”

Biden has long questioned whether his son Beau’s 2015 death from brain cancer was a direct result of his exposure to burn pits during his time in Iraq as part of the Delaware National Guard. 

During his State of the Union address in March, Biden called on Congress to address the legacy of burn pits by passing legislation “to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they deserve.” 

Danielle Robinson, the widow of Ohio National Guard Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, for whom the bill was named, attended Biden’s State of the Union Speech and was on hand Wednesday to watch him sign the bill. Her daughter, Brielle, was also at the signing ceremony.  

Danielle Robinson, while introducing Biden on Wednesday, said that “as a military spouse, when your loved one returns home safely from a deployment, you count your blessings.”

“You’re filled with gratitude. Fear turns to relief as you begin living as a family again,” she said. “But 10 years post deployment from Iraq, my husband Heath began the biggest battle of his life. A terminal stage four lung cancer diagnosis due to toxic exposure from a burn pit in Baghdad.”

Burn pits, she said, “became the biggest nightmare of our lives.”

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