[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will process disability benefits claims for veterans suffering from asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis as a result of their military service in Southwest Asia and certain other areas:
“The VA has taken a significant step toward ensuring K2 and other veterans have access to lifesaving care and benefits they deserve. During their brave service, these veterans were exposed to harmful toxins from glowing ponds, black goo, and burn pits, and now suffer from higher rates of cancers and other illnesses. We must fulfill our moral mandate of caring for these veterans, and I am pleased that the VA is rightly moving forward with doing so. More work is ahead to ensure that the full slate of service-related conditions is covered, and I will continue advocating for legislation like my K2 Veterans Act and the COST of War Act to get care and benefits to all impacted veterans.”
Blumenthal is a lead sponsor of the bicameral, bipartisan K2 Veterans Care Act, which would establish a “presumption of service connection” for the veterans who served at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (K2) in Uzbekistan and who have since been diagnosed with toxic exposure-related illnesses and diseases, requiring the VA to provide health care and benefits.
Blumenthal is also a cosponsor of the Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act, which includes several provisions he championed to establish presumptive conditions and provide benefits to thousands of toxic exposure veterans, including K2 and Palomares veterans.