Congressman Jim Cooper announced his support as an original co-sponsor to H.R. 2510, the "Helping Veterans Exposed to Toxic Chemicals Act" to address the health crisis among veterans who were exposed during their service overseas. The bill would direct the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to designate three Centers of Excellence to study and treat the effects of burn pits and other environmental exposures on veterans. Cooper issued the following statement:
"These centers are desperately needed for our military heroes who have been exposed to toxic fumes during their service. It's our duty to understand their health conditions, provide the best treatment and implement preventive measures for the future."
While the specific number of veterans with affiliated illnesses is unknown, some estimates range as high as tens of thousands.
The Centers would be established at existing facilities with expertise of respiratory issues associated with military service. A competitive process would be used to determine the designations, and Vanderbilt University would be a highly-qualified applicant based on its current program.
Cooper joins with colleagues and a broad coalition to support this bill including leading veteran advocacy groups, physicians and family members of veterans. H.R. 2510 has been endorsed by IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), The Sergeant Sullivan Center, and BurnPits360.