President Obama recently signed legislation requiring the VA to establish a registry for troops and veterans who lived and worked near open-air burn pits used to dispose waste in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas. Troops deployed in support of contingency operations and stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used will be eligible to register.

The new registry will enhance the VA’s ability to monitor the effects of exposure and keep veterans informed about studies and treatments. The list of pollutants troops may have come in contact with in Iraq and Afghanistan is long, ranging from chemicals inhaled by soldiers who fought a sulfur fire near Mosul in 2003, to dust and fine air particulates inhaled during daily operations, depleted uranium and more.

The VA has acknowledged troops may suffer from illnesses related to environmental exposures. According to the VA, it has established a surveillance program for service members exposed to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, at a water treatment facility near Basrah in 2003, and it lists nine infectious diseases found in the Middle East as service-related conditions. The VA will announce how to sign up once the registry is available. The VA is working to meet the one-year time frame for creating the registry.  

The Kings County Veterans Service Office issues Veteran I.D. cards to honorably discharged veterans. Contact Joe Wright if you would like to receive periodic veteran’s information by email.    There are many state and federal benefits and programs available to veterans and their dependents. To find out if you are eligible for any of these benefits, visit or call our office. We can and will assist you in completing all required application forms. You can get information at www.countyofkings.com.

Joe Wright, retired Navy master chief petty officer, is the veterans service officer for Kings County. Send your questions to the Veterans Service Office, 1400 W. Lacey Blvd., Hanford, CA 93230; call 852-2669; or email joe.wright@co.kings.ca.us. Joe Wright also assists Fresno County veterans.

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