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Military contractors face health dangers from burn pit exposure

Military contractors working in the war-torn Middle East earn good salaries for braving the threat of enemy aggression. However, many of these civilian employees are finding out that they were struck down by friendly fire during the War on Terror and didn't even know it.

Without proper waste removal operations at their disposal, military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan resorted to burn pits. Although these were meant as a temporary solution, their use grew and created what some are calling the "New Agent Orange."

Often several hundred yards in length, contractors would dump anything they needed to get rid of into burn pits, including garbage, raw sewage, plastic, even rotting animal carcasses. They would then douse everything with large amounts of jet fuel and torch it. The smoke and fumes that filled the air were so toxic that people would vomit on contact. The damaged health of those who were exposed to burn pits has been well documented. Still, many are having difficulty being treated and fairly compensated.

Burn pit exposure leads to numerous deaths

Soldiers who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War suffered deadly conditions such as leukemia, heart disease and numerous types of cancer. Those exposed to burn pits are another growing class of friendly fire victims. In fact, this threat is killing people at a higher rate than Agent Orange ever did.

The overwhelming amount of devastating health issues reported by people who came into contact with these horrendous fires prompted the government to create a Burn Pit Registry. Almost 64,000 vets have signed it as a way to document their faltering health. Some have already lost their lives and others are reporting problems that include:

  • Failing lung functions
  • Asthma
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Erratic blood pressure
  • Constant pain, cramps and recurring infections
  • Cancer
  • Leukemia

Similar to Agent Orange, many of these conditions are setting in years after returning stateside.

Recovery rights for military contractors

While veterans have the ability to seek medical assistance through the Veterans Administration, civilian contractors are not eligible. Workers who are covered by the Defense Base Act are having a difficult time getting necessary treatment and compensation. Many are fighting an uphill battle to prove their ailments are a result of burn pit exposure.

Although burn pits are now a banned practice, Joint Base Balad reportedly incinerated more than 140 tons of dangerous waste on a daily basis during the summer of 2008. And, the advocacy group Burn Pits 360 says the number of people who have suffered from burn pits is outpacing the tragedies of Agent Orange.

If you or a loved one is a military contractor who was exposed to these poisonous burn pits, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Contact an experienced Defense Base Act attorney at the Barnes Law Firm, Ltd. LLP. #DefenseBaseActLawyer

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