Jon Stewart and John Feal Team Up in Support for Service Members Exposed to Toxins
Regardless of what comes out of this extremely close election race, Jon Stewart and John Feal have a plan to move forward with legislation passed in support of service members exposed to toxins. Jon Stewart, comedian and long-time advocate, recently teamed up with John Feal, activist and Army veteran, to voice their support and enact change for these veterans. Their focus: veterans exposed to burn pits.
The fight for these veterans has been a long an arduous one. The case has been made on Capitol Hill time and time again by the same experts, all of which have supported benefits and presumption for burn pit veterans. Even after almost thirteen years of fighting, it was reported that only 10,000 claims have been filed, even though over 200,000 people have signed up for the VA’s burn pit registry. Of the 10,000 claims, 2,000 have been approved as of August 2020.
“Veterans who got sick are gullible, just like 9/11 responders who got sick,” Feal said, “because we just thought, ‘Oh. The government’s going to do the right thing and take care of us.” Based on the statistics around approved claims, it is clear that the government has not been adequately taking care of these veterans.
Though Stewart and Feal are fully committed to giving their full support to this cause regardless of the presidential election results, there is a strong a sentiment that one of the candidates would make their job much easier. Joe Biden would likely be much more receptive given his personal relationship with burn pits; he has said that believes his son’s brain cancer was connected to burn pits.
Among Biden’s plans if elected, is the development of a post-9/11 study of veterans exposed to toxins, including burn pits. Given his position, Biden would likely be more receptive of Stewart and Feal’s ideal bill, which would provide presumptive benefit status for all service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11th, 2001. The bill is sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Senator Tom Tillis, of North Carolina, sponsors a second bill that would provide health care for all veterans exposed.
Feal called the burn pits an issue “that’s dear to Joe Biden,” adding that, depending on the outcome of the election, “Our work is easier, or our work is a lot harder.”
While President Trump has signed legislation forcing burn pits to be shut down, his administration has opposed expanding benefits for exposed veterans and only did so after Congress and the courts mandated it.
Both Stewart and Feal emphasize that their task is no “breeze either way.” They will continue to fight through media appearances and rallies such as the one they have planned for Veterans Day in Washington.