WASHINGTON, July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) coalition announced that toxic exposure legislation has been officially introduced to the Senate, with Sen. Thom Tillis acting as the main bill sponsor. S. 4393 TEAM Act of 2020 will:
Expand health care access to veterans for illnesses related to toxic exposures.
Permanent reauthorization of Section 1116 of Title 38.
Establish a commission to review presumptive disabilities caused by toxic exposures.
Provide veterans online access to their individual longitudinal exposure record.
Require VA to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study the impact of toxic exposures in humans.
Create a toxic exposures questionnaire to be administered during VA primary care visits.
Use the National Artificial Intelligence Institute to identify high risk groups by comparing VA health records and DoD exposure records.
Establish a list of resources for care for veterans exposed to toxic substances.
"The TEAM coalition has made great strides since we launched this effort last June, and we're all very proud of the work we have done collectively," said Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. "We're honored to stand alongside Sen. Tillis and others, who are championing this necessary reform to help those coping with these specific wounds of war."
The TEAM coalition formed last year to track data and advocate for legislation related to harmful environmental exposures during military service. WWP has supported this effort as an organizer and advocate, partnering with 29 member organizations to craft legislation and find solutions on behalf of the thousands of veterans affected by chemical and toxic exposures.
Supporting the TEAM coalition are Jon Stewart, former Daily Show host and comedian, and John Feal, longtime advocate for 9/11 first responders and founder of the FealGood Foundation.
"The TEAM coalition is working to ensure that veterans returning from war find the resources, support, and care that they desperately need," Stewart said. "We have nearly 20 years of science on what these toxic exposures did to the lungs and organs of the first responders and survivors of 9/11. None of those who served our nation, whether first responder or soldier, should have to battle their own government to get their conditions recognized."
"This legislation is an important first step toward resolving the tremendous health crisis caused by toxic exposures," Feal said. "I'm confident that our combined efforts, along with the support of the warriors we collectively serve and the members of Congress who believe in our work, will bring about the change we want to see, which America's ill and injured veterans desperately deserve."
To date, there are more than 210,000 post-9/11 veterans enrolled in the VA's Burn Pit Registry, and thousands more remain sick without proper access to VA health care. To learn more about the partner organizations within the TEAM coalition, and how they're working with our nation's leaders to improve the lives of wounded, ill, and injured veterans, click here.