Contractors sickened by military burn pits left to fend for themselves | MassCops

Contractors sickened by military burn pits left to fend for themselves

Discussion in 'Military News' started by kwflatbed, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Contractors sickened by military burn pits left to fend for themselves
    By Perry Chiaramonte

    Published October 18, 2016
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    February 4, 2013: U.S. Army soldiers watch garbage burn in a burn-pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.

    It’s known as “the new Agent Orange.”

    Thousands of soldiers have fallen gravely ill or even died from exposure to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they are not the only ones who have gotten sick. Civilian workers and private contractors are also suffering maladies including cancer, respiratory problems and blood disorders and, like military victims, they say they are being ignored.

    But private employees often don't even have the Veterans Administration to lean on.

    “Who’s responsible for us? Who’s going to start taking care of us?” asked Bobby Elesky, 52, a vet-turned-private contractor who worked out of Kandahar during the war in Afghanistan.

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    Bobby Elesky, 52, a vet and private contractor who worked out of Kandahar, has suffered for his service.

    Elesky, who served in the military in the 1980s, said many vets like him were recruited as private contractors to assist in Afghanistan.

    “We were all rounded up as vets from the [Department of Defense] because we were the best soldiers,” he said. “They asked us if we wanted to go, and shipped us to Afghanistan.”

    Elesky worked on vehicle maintenance and the military base where he was stationed contained a burn pit he says was the length of “two to three football fields.” He adds that it was filled with various sorts of waste until it was level enough to walk across and the fumes from the burn pit combined with the base’s sewage pit, created a noxious environment to work in.

    “There were times when the air quality was so bad that you would just drop to your knees and throw up,” he said. “We made jokes at the time because we had no idea how serious it was.’

    But Elesky says he found out when he returned home in 2005 and was told during a checkup that he had nearly 20 parasites in his body. More than a decade after his return, Elskey has suffered from myriad health issues, including plasmacytoma -- a condition where rare tumors attack soft tissue in the nasal cavity or bone marrow. He is grateful for the treatment he has received from the VA, but said the bureaucracy was difficult to deal with.

    Elesky said he was initially denied enrollment into the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Burn Pit Registry -- which was created to research and examine the potential threats from burn pit exposure.

    Contractors Sickened By Military Burn Pits Left To Fend For Themselves

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