Troops who developed one of nine rare cancers due to exposure from toxic burn pits will now receive accelerated disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Monday.
"Veterans who suffer from rare respiratory cancers associated with their service deserve the very best America has to offer — but they've had to wait for the care and benefits they deserve for far too long. That ends now," said VA Secretary Denis McDonough.
Among the cancers added to the department's "fast-track" list, which lowers the amount of evidence needed to receive benefits, are: squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx, squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea, adenocarcinoma of the trachea, adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung, large cell carcinoma of the lung, salivary gland-type tumors of the lung, sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung, and typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung.
The addition of the cancers to the fast-track list follows an order by President Joe Biden in November to review the link between overseas military burn pits and rare cancers.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the military used the pits to burn garbage, jet fuel, paint, medical waste, and plastics. In the latest news release, the department confirmed that it had determined a "biological plausibility" between the toxins and various respiratory cancers.
President Biden urged in an official White House statement soon after the report's release for "Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to comprehensively address toxic exposures and further deliver the vital benefits our veterans have earned."
"No matter where we live or who we voted for in the last election, we all agree that we should serve our veterans as well as they have served us," the president wrote.
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