COLORADO SPRINGS — For some Veterans, the effects of toxic air they breathed in Afghanistan and Iraq will stay with them forever.
The Honoring our PACT Act (H.R. 3967) aims to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances.
During the State of the Union Address, President Joe Biden voiced his support for the act.
"They come home, many of the worlds fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same."
Veronica Landry, who lives in Colorado Springs, served as an Army Medic in the 1990s, and eventually went to Iraq as a contracted employee in 2004 to help American troops.
"Everything that goes to our landfills, that you're not allowed to burn in the U.S., they somehow thought that it was OK to burn in a war zone."
Roughly ten years after returning from Iraq Landry was diagnosed with Constrictive Bronchiolitis, a lung disease the doctors say will eventually kill her.
"That was really hard to take, at 40 something years old to be told you have a disease that will become terminal."
After participating in innovative studies when it comes to Veterans and toxic exposure between 2015 and 2018, doctors told Landry her illness was most likely related to her time in close proximity to burn pits.
"My lungs, they looked like a long-term smoker and I had never smoked in my life."
Veronica already settled a law suit against the company she was contracted with in Iraq for her exposure. If the Honoring our PACT Act passes she will not get any benefits from it, but she is still advocating for other Veterans and their families who are also dealing with the repercussions of their time in the Middle East.
"What hurts the most is to see the young people. I'll be 50 this year and to see someone 35 dying from cancer... That hurts."
The House is expected to vote on the Honoring our PACT Act any day now, you can track its status here.
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