Congresswoman Elaine Luria Leads Hearing Exploring the Impacts of Toxic Exposures on Veterans

September 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) Subcommittee Chair Elaine Luria presided over the Subcommittee’s oversight hearing to analyze the effects of airborne toxic exposures on veterans who served in Southwest Asia and how to improve access to health care for these veterans.

In the hearing, the Congresswoman facilitated a discussion about the health ramifications of exposure to burn pits and oil well fires. She questioned witnesses about how the VA is working to confirm exposure and presumptive disability decision-making processes. This would ensure that our bravest men and women are properly compensated for their service. She also pressed for answers on the most recent research regarding exposures to airborne toxins. Mr. Caleb R. Stone of the College of William & Mary Law School’s Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic participated in this hearing as a witness. He spoke about challenges he has experienced while working to ensure that veterans receive adequate compensation for toxic exposures.

“As we approach the 19th consecutive year of United States military operations in the Middle East, our country and the DAMA Subcommittee continue to develop a better understanding of the long-term health effects their service has placed on the men and women who served there,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “Their new environment was filled with dust and debris brought by sandstorms and exacerbated by burn pits, which indiscriminately exposed our servicemembers to hazards. 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.”

To watch Congresswoman Luria’s opening remarks, please click here. You can also view footage of the Congresswoman’s first and second lines of questioning. 

Congresswoman Luria has consistently worked across party lines to ensure that our veterans receive the support and care they need. Last year, she championed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act as it passed through DAMA before becoming law. This law provides long-overdue health benefits to Vietnam-era veterans who served 12 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam and experienced health complications from Agent Orange.  

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.