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Lawmakers push to learn impact of toxic exposures on veterans

After 19 years of combat in the Middle East, the VA is still denying close to 80 percent of claims from vets related to exposure to burn pits.

WASHINGTON — It took the Department of Veterans Affairs more than four decades to get many Vietnam veterans care following exposure to Agent Orange. Lawmakers don't want that happening again for the post 9/11 generation.

After 19 years of combat in the Middle East, the VA is still denying close to 80 percent of claims from vets related to exposure to burn pits. Most veterans who got sick have to prove that their illnesses were caused by those exposures.

On Wednesday, House members complained about the lack of progress in caring for those vets.

"I have full faith that both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs want what's best for our troops and veterans,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA). “Yet, we continue to see heartbreaking stories in the news of young veterans' lives cut short."

“It is imperative that we learn where the VA stands in addressing disability assistance for veterans exposed to these hazards and the role that Congress can play,” said Virginia 2nd District Rep. Elaine Luria after the hearing.

In all, the VA estimates as many as 3.5 million veterans may have been affected by burn pits and other airborne hazards during their service.