Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statement after introducing H.R. 6659, the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, yesterday. The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act is bipartisan, bicameral legislation to expand eligibility for VA care to post-9/11 combat veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their military service. The bill would also advance research into the health effects of toxic exposure and improve training for VA health care and benefits staff.

“My colleagues and I have made improving support for veterans suffering from toxic exposure our highest priority over the last two years. If we let the 117th Congress pass by without making meaningful improvements for those men and women, it will be a failure. And, as the only veteran leader on the House or Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, I will not accept failure on this front,” said Ranking Member Bost. “I invited a fellow veteran, Jim Price, to testify in the House last year when we started this fight. Jim is a toxic-exposed veteran himself and so was his late wife, Lauren. Lauren died last year from conditions she and Jim believed were related to the exposures she experienced during her military service. During his testimony, Jim talked about losing Lauren, and about the urgent need for Congress to get our act together for veterans like her and thousands of others whose lives are on the line. His testimony is why I introduced the bipartisan House companion to the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act. To be clear, our work to improve benefits and services for toxic-exposed veterans will be far from over if this bill becomes law. But, this will be a life-saving first step for the many veterans whose time will run out if they don’t get the care they need now. I appreciate the bipartisan support for this bill from my House and Senate colleagues and from the veteran community that I am proud to be a part of. Veterans are counting on our leadership. I hope that we can soon put our differences aside and deliver for them.”

“This legislation has been needed for a long time and it is a superb first step in the right direction,” said Jim Price, Navy veteran and Advocate. “The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act ensures that veterans with toxic exposure are finally being acknowledged and will receive the health care they deserve and have earned. Health care for these veterans to survive matters more than benefits, because benefits mean nothing if you are no longer alive. My late wife, Lauren Price, would have been very ecstatic and proud to see this legislation come into fruition. Had Lauren been provided proper healthcare instead of being denied care by VA, she may still be here today.”

The Health Care for Burn Pits Veterans Act is supported by veteran service organizations, including The American Legion (TAL).

“The American Legion is proud to support the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act which provides post 9/11 veterans who served in any theater of combat operations access to VA health care,” said National Commander Paul E. Dillard, The American Legion. “Although a comprehensive approach to improve the presumptive process for burn pit veterans is urgently needed, this bill will bridge the gap until long overdue action is taken.”

H.R. 6659 is companion legislation to S. 3541, which was introduced in the Senate last week by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) with the support of every Senate Committee member on both sides of the aisle.

H.R. 6659 is cosponsored by 24 bipartisan Members of Congress including:

Del. Radewagen, Aumua Amata Coleman [R-AS-At Large]
Rep. Bergman, Jack [R-MI-1]
Rep. Banks, Jim [R-IN-3]
Rep. Mann, Tracey [R-KS-1]
Rep. Moore, Barry [R-AL-2]
Rep. Mace, Nancy [R-SC-1]
Rep. Cawthorn, Madison [R-NC-11]
Rep. Nehls, Troy E. [R-TX-22]
Rep. Rosendale Sr., Matthew M. [R-MT-At Large]
Rep. Miller-Meeks, Mariannette [R-IA-2]
Rep. Ellzey, Jake [R-TX-6]
Rep. Houlahan, Chrissy [D-PA-6]
Rep. McKinley, David B. [R-WV-1]
Rep. Newhouse, Dan [R-WA-4]
Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8]
Rep. Rutherford, John H. [R-FL-4]
Rep. Van Duyne, Beth [R-TX-24]
Rep. Davis, Rodney [R-IL-13]
Rep. Wenstrup, Brad R. [R-OH-2]
Rep. Jacobs, Chris [R-NY-27]
Rep. Meijer, Peter [R-MI-3]
Rep. McMorris Rodgers, Cathy [R-WA-5]
Rep. Franklin, C. Scott [R-FL-15]
Rep. Cammack, Kat [R-FL-3]

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