Washington, DC (PRWEB) August 31, 2013
The Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center (SSC) sent comments last week to the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding a proposed data collection ("Burn Pit Registry") to assess the health impact on Veterans and Service members of exposures to burn pit plumes, oil well fires, dust, and airborne hazards in Iraq and Afghanistan. The SSC has posted its own comments and those of veterans, caregivers, and experts on its website, http://www.sgtsullivancenter.org.
Implementation of this Burn Pit Registry was mandated by a law passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this year, to address a growing health crisis among Veterans and Service members who have gotten sick after inhaling fumes from burning trash and toxic dust in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The SSC Preliminary Comments note that "not a single question in the [proposed VA] data collection directly and clearly asks Veterans to report on diseases they have now that they did not have before deployment. Instead, questions ask for Veteran subjective perceptions of disease and exposure and for general health conditions without reference to whether deployment exposure preceded the conditions, a tactic which will not yield information useful for assessing how deployment exposures actually impact health."
Many Veterans, advocates and caregivers also commented on the questionnaire and sent copies of to the SSC. Highlighted comments are posted at http://www.sgtsullivancenter.org/airborne-hazards-questionnaire.html. These highlights include comments from Alice Daniels, who lost her son SSGT Austin Daniels to a post-deployment cancer that developed after his exposure to burn pit fumes at Camp Victory, Dr. Steven Coughlin, an epidemiologist who once worked for the VA, and Dr. Robert Miller, a pulmonologist who uncovered a rare lung condition called constrictive bronchiolitis in Veterans exposed to airborne hazards in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"After reading the proposed burn pit 'registry'," wrote Daniels in her comments, "it appears to be slanted toward proving the health of military personnel was not affected by the burn pits rather than locating all who became ill due to exposure."
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 at http://www.sgtsullivancenter.org.