Burn Pit Study: VA announces plans to conduct study of recent combat veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a notice in the Federal Register on Feb. 4, 2013, entitled, "Initial Research on the Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan." The notice announces that the VA plans to conduct a study of the adverse health effects related to military deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, including the potential for exposure to airborne hazards and burn pits.

As stated in a review of the Federal Register by Military Times, the study will examine "recent combat veterans to determine whether there is a relationship between deployments and illnesses such as cancer, respiratory disease, circulatory problems, neurological conditions and more."

Also in the notice, the VA states that it plans to take "actions to promote the effective monitoring and assessment of deployment-related exposures and potential health effects of deployments." VA Secretary Erik Shinseki has asked the Department of Defense to take a role in the study to address, now and in the future, the "clinical and research issues associated with deployment."

This recent announcement is a change in the VA's stance on the need for such a study and follows its review of an Oct. 31, 2011, report (made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academy of Sciences) that analyzed the potential long-term health consequences of burn pit exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The VA will release more details as it further develops the study.

Motley Rice attorneys have been working with co-counsel Susan Burke of Burke PLLC in the KBR, Inc., Burn Pit multidistrict litigation (MDL) representing clients against multiple defense contractors for allegedly exposing American soldiers and former employees of defense contractors to toxic smoke, ash, and fumes generated by disposing of waste in open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We welcome you to contact us if you have a question about the burn pit litigation. Contact Motley Rice attorney James Ledlie by email or call 1.800.768.4026 or Burke PLLC attorney Susan Burke by email or call 202.386.9622 . Current clients can access more information on our client extranet.