Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is backing an effort to improve access to health care for veterans who’ve been exposed to toxic substances in so-called burn pits.
The bipartisan bill expands Veterans Administration eligibility for post-9-11 combat veterans from five to 10 years after being discharged.
The bill also creates a one-year open enrollment period in health care for those who didn’t enroll during their initial five years after being discharged.
At least a million of the approximately 3.5 million post-9-11 combat veterans who were potentially exposed to toxic substances are currently unable to access VA care.
In many combat areas, the U.S. military disposed of trash, human waste and other items by burning them in massive fires.
Many veterans later developed respiratory illnesses, rare cancers and other diseases linked to the toxic smoke.
According to the Military Times, the proposal would cost about $1 billion in the coming years.