The Sergeant Sullivan Center Calls on Veterans, Advocates, Scientists, and Military Families to Provide Commentary on the VA Proposed Open Burn Pit Registry Questionnaire

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After requests from advocates and policy makers, the VA extended the public comment deadline for the proposed open burn pit registry questionnaire from August 5 to August 20, 2013. The Sergeant Sullivan Center, among those advocates who requested an extension of the deadline, now calls for individual stakeholders to review the questionnaire, submit feedback to the VA per the agency's instructions, and copy feedback to The Sergeant Sullivan Center by email, as the Center will be providing comments to the VA that will be informed by the suggestions of individual stakeholders.

The Sergeant Sullivan Center asks all persons who have been impacted by or have scientific knowledge related to toxic and chemical exposures from burn pits and airborne hazards submit comments on the proposed burn pit registry questionnaire to the VA.

The Sergeant Sullivan Center (SSC) today asks that all persons who have been impacted by or have scientific knowledge related to toxic and chemical exposures from burn pits and airborne hazards in the Gulf War and post-9/11 eras submit comments to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) related to the proposed questionnaire per the instructions provided below and copy The Sergeant Sullivan Center at info(at)sgtsullivancenter(dot)org.

VA officials on June 5 announced in a Federal Register Notice that they wanted to collect public comments on the proposed questionnaire, but did not at that time make the questionnaire available for the public to review online, which distressed policy makers, advocates, researchers and Veterans around the country.

Shortly thereafter, The Sergeant Sullivan Center sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki requesting the agency make the "questionnaire [available] to the public via a website link and reset the public comment period to allow sufficient time for all stakeholders to review and provide substantive constructive comments." Advocates and policy makers made similar requests, and the VA has now posted the relevant documents online and extended the public comment deadline by 15 days to August 20.

As SSC President Daniel Sullivan wrote in the Center's letter to Secretary Shinseki, making the questionnaire readily available for public review "will ensure that tax dollars are not wasted on creating and implementing a questionnaire that has been developed without comment from those who matter most – the Veterans who are sick, the organizations that advocate for them, and the private sector doctors around the country trying to make them well."

Instructions for submitting comments on the proposed questionnaire to the VA per the Federal Register Notice are as follows: "Submit written comments on the collection of information through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) ... , or to Cynthia Harvey-Pryor, Veterans Health Administration (10B4), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420 or email: cynthia.harvey-pryor(at)va(dot)gov. Please refer to 'OMB Control No. 2900-NEW, Open Burn Pit Registry Airborne Hazard Self-Assessment Questionnaire,' in any correspondence. During the comment period, comments may be viewed online through FDMS."

Founded in 2010 by the family of a Marine who fell to post-deployment illnesses, The Sergeant Sullivan Center is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health outcomes for current and former military personnel, especially those who are suffering from emerging, complicated, or currently unexplained post-deployment health concerns, through awareness, research, and connection. More information is available on the organization website.

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