Vermont governor signs bill to assist veterans with burn pit registry

Elizabeth Howe
June 18, 2019 - 11:55 am

Photo courtesy of DVIDS

Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont just signed a bill to help veterans in his state access the national burn pit registry that tracks symptoms of those exposed to burn pit toxins. 

S.111 or the "Open Burn Pit Registry" bill requires the Vermont Commissioner of Health and the Adjutant General to work together to develop and make available information about the health effects currently associated with exposure to burn pits. The task force will also be responsible for ensuring veterans know about and have access to the national burn pit registry

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Further, the Vermont National Guard and Office of Veterans Affairs are required, through S.111, to directly contact all known veterans in Vermont who may be eligible for the registry and ensure they are aware of information that may be critical for early and potentially life-saving diagnostics. 

As burn pits sicken troops, new legislation is introduced to study them

"We’re here to make S.111 law because it’s our responsibility as civilians, and as a government, to do whatever we can to support the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces," Scott said at the signing ceremony at the Woody William Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. "We’re here to honor and support America’s one percent."

In attendance at the ceremony was June Heston, the wife of the late General Mike Heston who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. 

"General Heston served in the Vermont State Police for 26 years, as well as in the Marine Corps Reserve and Vermont Army National Guard," Scott said. "He was deployed to Afghanistan and served his state and country bravely with June by his side. Without June's passionate advocacy for this bill, we might not be here today."

Burn pits were used during the first Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom, and in Southeast Asia. Studies have proven that toxins in burn pit smoke can have detrimental health effects on those exposed to them for extended periods of time. 

House unanimously passes first burn pit bill of the year

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