Veterans, troops can’t file claims for exposure to toxins. This bill would help change that.

Photo credit Photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Agosti/118th Wing, Public Affairs, Tennessee Air National Guard

Active-duty service members and veterans who were exposed to toxic hazards can’t make disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs because the exposure isn’t tracked in their medical records.

A bill filed in the House Thursday would change that.

The Occupational and Environmental Transparency Health (OATH) Act, introduced by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., would require military medical records to track service members exposure to toxins such as mold, dangerous chemicals and open-air burn pits. This would allow veterans file claims for issues they have related to that exposure.

“Our service members and veterans deserve the best care available and to have their medical records accurately reflect any occupational and environmental health hazards they have been exposed to during their service to our great country,” Garamendi said in a statement.

Only 175,000 veterans and service members have registered so far for the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, of more than 3 million post-9/11 veterans, according to Veterans Affairs. 

“Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a service member to be exposed to toxic substances while performing duties and missions both here at home and abroad,” said Scott. “The OATH Act will ensure medical records of our active-duty service members and veterans accurately track exposure ... in an effort to better diagnose and treat illnesses down the road.”

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