TUCSON – Veterans are concerned about their health because of toxins they were exposed to in the Middle East.
Tim Jentes joined the Army in 2003. He was deployed to Iraq 3 times. He spent time at Fort Huachuca and now lives in Tombstone.
“I remember multiple nights that there were just lots of smoke and debris from the areas that they were burning,” Jentes said.
The smoke was not always from battle. The military was burning waste that included chemicals, metals and plastics.
“It didn't make it very comfortable to sleep or run in,” Jentes said, “because we still had to do some PT. And it really didn't help when you're breathing heavy.”
The VA has set up a web page dedicated to burn pits, which says most of the irritation from the smoke is “temporary and resolves once the exposure is gone.”
“At this time, research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits,” according to the VA.
A documentary called “Delay, Deny, Hope You Die: How America Poisoned its Soldiers” is about to premiere in Los Angeles. The director and producer, Greg Lovett, will be taking the film to Tucson on October 12th.
“I think it's excellent,” Jentes said. “More information is better than none. So I hope that it's able to reach a lot of people and give them more awareness of what happened to soldiers that were in Iraq.”
More than 100,000 veterans have joined the VA’s Open Burn Pit Registry. They can also apply for disability benefits.
“The high level of fine dust and pollution common in Iraq and Afghanistan may pose a greater danger for respiratory illnesses than exposure to burn pits,” according to the VA.
The burn pits documentary will be played at The Loft Cinema. Tickets are free because of a sponsorship from Concerned Veterans for America. People interested in attending can send a message to the film’s Facebook page.