ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A local lawmaker was calling for help for dying veterans on Tuesday.
Those veterans claim they got sick from burning toxic trash in the Middle East — and breathing it in.
“I’m very mad, I’m very angry,” Lauren Price, a Navy veteran deployed to Iraq, says.
She says the federal government needs to cover all the health bills she has for her terminal illness.
“I was perfectly healthy before I left. Two days before Iraq, I did my [Physical Fitness Test]. I did my run in 12 minutes and 20 seconds,” Price says. “Got back from Iraq, I can’t climb two flights of stairs.”
Price says she cannot climb those stairs because she was inhaling toxic fumes from burn pits overseas.
“The guys that I all, I didn’t serve with them, but I served over there at the same time. We’re all kind of at the same stage now, where our lung functions are significantly deteriorating and other diseases are showing up,” Price says.
If you go to the Veterans Affairs website, it states: “at this time, research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits.”
But, Rep. Gus Bilirakis disagrees.
“This critical legislation that I filed will lay the foundation to provide a presumption for service connection for exposure to toxic burn pits, which will enable the veterans battling illnesses to immediately access VA care and disability benefits,” Rep. Bilirakis says.
During a speech Tuesday afternoon at St. Petersburg College, Bilirakis vowed to not let history repeat itself.
“We saw similar patterns, of course, with veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange in earlier years. I’m not going to let this happen again,” Bilirakis says.