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H.R. 1279 (115th): Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 1, 2017.

Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act

This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a center of excellence in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to burn pits and other environmental exposures in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The VA shall, in selecting the center's site, consider entities that:

are equipped with the specialized equipment needed to study, diagnose, and treat health conditions relating to such exposure; have a track record of publishing information on post-deployment health exposures among veterans who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom; have access to animal models and in vitro models of dust immunology and lung injury consistent with the injuries of members of the Armed Forces who served in support of such operations; and have expertise in allergy, immunology, and pulmonary diseases. The VA shall ensure that the center collaborates with the Department of Defense (DOD), institutions of higher education, and other appropriate public and private entities to:

provide for dissemination within the VA of best practices for the treatment of such conditions and the training of health professionals, provide guidance for the VA and DOD health systems in determining the personnel required to provide quality health care for members of the Armed Forces and veterans with such conditions, establish, and oversee a program to train VA and DOD health professionals in the treatment of such conditions, facilitate advancements in the study of the short-term and long-term effects of such exposure, conduct basic science and translational research on such conditions for the purposes of understanding the etiology of such conditions and developing preventive interventions and new treatments, and provide medical treatment to veterans diagnosed with medical conditions specific to exposure to burn pits and other environmental exposures. The center shall have access to and make use of the data accumulated by the burn pits registry.