Burn Pit Stories
BURN PITS 360  - Company Message
My Blog

Burn Pit Stories

This section of the website is to post your personal experiences and journeys with the issues resulting from the Burn Pits In Iraq. The goal is to have these stories delivered to the front steps of Capitol HIll and to the Honorable Secretary Of Veteran Affairs, Mr. Erik Shinseki.

55 Comments to Burn Pit Stories:

Comments RSS
Tim Wymore on Thursday, January 06, 2011 6:30 PM
In August 2004 I was activated from the 131st Fighter wing. There were five of us that was activated to go to Joint Base Ballad known as LSA Anaconda. We finally flew out of Lambert International Airport on September fifth we flew to Alanta Georgia and then got on a International Flight we flew to Bahran and had a layover for about two hours. it was so hot there unbelievably hot. It was 120 degrees in the shade.Then we got back on the the plane and flew to base Aludeid in kuwait. We landed in the middle of the night so we had to find all our bags then we were sent to a trailer to sleep luckly they were airconditioned. It was a scorcher there. You would go take a shower and by the time you got back to your trailer you sweated so much you needed another shower. We were stranded there for five days waiting to get a flight out on a C141 to fly us to Ballad. Well we finally get the ok to go and the Master Seargent in charge wouldnt get on the plane. He left us stranded so we went on as planned. The date was September 11th 2004, as we flew over the base we were told we couldnt land the base was just mortar attacked and hit a eighteen year old kid. We put our bullet proof vest and kevlar helmets on. We were all very scared, we finally got the ok to land. When the back of the plane opened they told us to put our heads down and run.When we were in inprocessing to joint base Balad we were told a 18 year old kid had been hit by a mortar,he lost both legs one complete arm and one hand on the other arm. But a miracle happened and he lived. But you wonder what way of life does or will he have. As I lived and worked there for the next 6 months we had to breath and taste this nasty ass smoke. Till this day I taste that taste that can not leave my mouth every morning I get up. While in the shower I hold my mouth open and let the water fill my mouth and when I spit it out it is actually dark in color black to be exact.Not only did I live there I made several tractor trailer loads of waste to the burnpits.One day I hauled 25 loads of unservicable tents from DRMO I would go to DRMO and load the flat bed up then drive to the burnpit and the dozer would shove them off in the burnpit and they would burn a bellowing cloud of black smoke. While over there I was sick with Gasteral pains, Head Aches,dizzy spells ,chronic cough, but I was given 800 mg motrin and sent back to work. Soon after we got back in 2005 I came down with a softball size infection attached to my collon and small bowel. My wife rushed me to Barnes Jewish Hospital because I was in so much pain. I wasnt told about the VA and our rights to help.Well I almost Died they did an emergancy surgery and took out the infection. Ever since I have gradually gotten sicker and sicker to the point that I can no longer work, Drive,Ride My Harley,or even play basketball or softball or golf with my kids.Hell I cant even have a sexual relationship with my wife like I should. Im 44 years old and my wife has to help bath me dress me push around in a wheel chair do you know how hard this is on her.It hurts me every day to have to depend on her I have always provided for us now they want to foreclose on our house. I thought taking the oath ment something I am a proud American but Im torn to see how much we have to fight, why do we have to it shouldnt be this way. When we returned we were never told about all the help that was available to us. I spent 18 years 10 days as a American soldier going the extra mile for what to get smacked in the face like this.Terrible I was sent to Vanderbilt Hospital November 9th 2010 to DR. Robert Miller to see if I was a canidate to his surgery guess what Im to far gone. There is nothing for me to look forward to now I was hoping for an answer, The answer I got was to get off the pain pills because when I get worse the pain pills arent going to work. And that I could die a very painful death. Whats a father, husband,best friend do. Wait the storm out. Do you know I have a grand baby boy who is 10 months old and he means the world to me as well as my three sons and my beautiful wife do you know just thinking of not seeing them for a longful life is waying on me.This is not fair nor is it right,I was still sick and they were talking of sending us back and my enlistment was up and I said hell no I did not reenlist because of that. I wasnt even given a chance for a medical discharge because My Chief Master Seargent was not passing the info on to the hospital personnel. I never even got a DD214 till this year 2010 because I slipped thru the cracks funny I wonder how many more slipped thru the cracks. They held a hometown hero ceremony for all the other guys I went to Iraq with but I wasnt invited. Because I was sick and they didnt want it out so I slipped thru the cracks again. Its alfully funny how I always slipped thru the cracks.Not FAIR nor APPRECIATED for serving our country notice I said Our country not mine. There is not a I in TEAM and I was always a team player just doesn't seem fair. TSGT William Timothy Wymore (490845500)
Reply to comment
 
April Eppolito on Saturday, February 05, 2011 7:52 PM
It isn't fair, and I as so sorry that you are being treated the way you have been. I appreciate all that you did for me and my family to be free. My nephew, SSG Steven G Ochs passed away July 12, 2008 from AML, due to the burnpits. I am so mad and I am sadden by all of this. I will share this information to all that I know. God Bless you and thank you for your service. Sincerely, April


portia edwards on Thursday, September 08, 2011 2:41 AM

I want to thank you and your family. I will include you and your family in my prayers. were a military family too. please encourae your wife to stand up and demand all that you are entitled to all that you have earned. Do not give up hope, do not give up your well earned pride. Thank you



PAUL on Sunday, May 13, 2012 12:59 AM
I WAS A MEDIC THERE AND HELPED SAVE THAT KID. I WAS ON THE GROUND AS THE ROCKET SCREAMED OVER MY HEAD (THE LOUDEST WISTLE I EVER HERD) THINKING OF MY FAMILY(FLASH)AND THE EARTH SHOOK AND WHAT A DUSTY BLOODY MESS I HOPE THESE YEARS HAVE BEEN KINDER TO HIM HE WAS JUST ONE OF 5 PLUS THOUSAND WE SENT TO GERMANY IN 3 1/2 MO - SEPT TO DEC 2004


Daniel Tijerina on Saturday, January 08, 2011 3:25 PM
My name is Daniel Tijerina, and my term served in the capacity of Army Chief Warrant Officer at Camp Victory Complex start date 1 November 2004 and ending serve date 4 June 2005. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. (KBR) a subsidiary of Halliburton Co operated the Open Air Burn Pits sites and Water Purification Operations at Camp Victory since the beginning of my serve date. I lived and worked under a mile away from where KBR and Halliburton Co a military contractor operated open air burn pits sites which produced toxic smoke, ash, and fumes generated through the disposal of waste in open air burn pits. The toxic smoke and smell would routinely hover over the Camp Victory complex during the late-night and early-morning hours because of temperature inversions keeping the plume on the surface or just above. I believe that I also ingested various amounts of toxins through food sources because of smoke plume dispersion through Camp Victory facilities. Camp Victory and nearby cluster of military camps did not have clean-burning incinerators, nor other methods for disposal of all waste at these open burn pits in place. KBR and Halliburton Co burned vast quantities of unsorted waste in enormous open air burn pits with no safety controls. The open air burn pits did not effectively burn the volume of waste generated which created a vast amount of smoke and smell from the burn pits blew over and inside Camp Victory facilities, such as work stations, several dining facilities, medical facilities, personal hygiene facilities, and into the living areas. Jet fuel was used as to start the burn pit fires. Wastes that were burned by KBR and Halliburton Co. contractors included animal carcasses, asbestos insulation, biohazard materials, cleaning supplies, dangerous chemicals, hydraulic fluids, items containing pesticides, incomplete combustion by-products, human waste, a variety of chemicals, lacquers, lithium batteries, medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), medical and hazardous electronic waste, metals, human corpses, munitions boxes, paints and paint strippers, paper/cardboard, petroleum-oil-lubricating products, rubbers, office equipment such as copiers, printers, monitors, glues, and adhesives, plastic water bottles, polyvinyl chloride pipes, rubber, solvents, styrofoam, tires, trucks, and wood. I experienced daily prolonged toxic exposure and ingested various amounts of toxins through food sources and inhalation from the smoke plume distribution throughout camp facilities connected to the open air burn pits. Because I constantly ingested toxic smoke, ash, and fumes, I incurred ongoing injuries and chronic illnesses and host of serious respiratory symptoms of allergy-like symptoms, asthma, bronchitis, productive coughs, chronic coughs, phlegm, staph infections, MRSA, and chronic respiratory, distress, unexplained shortness of breath, nose bleeds, pulmonary disorders, headaches, hypoxemia-low oxygen, excessive snoring, sleep disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritability, memory loss, emotional distress, anxiety, eye irritation/red eye w/pain and increased tearing, drooling, chronic clearing of my throat, flu like symptoms, burning sensation inside my body, body aching all the time, and total weakness. On 2 November 2004 KBR began distributing water to Camp Victory facilities such as work stations, dining facilities (DFAC), medical facilities, personal hygiene facilities, and living areas. I used the contaminated and discolored water during my entire deployment for personnel hygiene, for brushing my teeth, washing, bathing, shaving, cleaning, and to make coffee. The laundry water treatment also did not meet the minimum military safety standards and the water problems were not confined to Camp Victory Complex. My daily exposure to KBR water contamination at Camp Victory Complex are directly responsible for my symptoms such as bacterial infection, diarrhea bacterial infection, eye irritation/red eye with pain, burning sensation inside my body, chemical/corrosive/toxic, gastritis-helicobacter pylori, parasites, bacteria. My daily exposure to KBR water contamination at Camp Victory Complex are directly responsible for my confirmed medical diagnosis such as staph infections, MRSA, gastrointestinal illness, acid reflux, cholesterol with risk factors of heart disease, obstructed sleep apnea, abscesses, cellulites, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, low testosterone. At that time I went about my job, assuming no misconduct by the contractor KBR and Halliburton Co in operating open air burn pits and water purification facilities. KBR and Halliburton Co did not put me or any of the residents at Camp Victory on notice of the life threatening dangers involved in this toxic environment, jeopardizing the health and safety of many thousands of American soldiers, veterans, and contractors in November 2004 - February 2006.
Reply to comment
 
Burn Pit Voices on Monday, February 28, 2011 9:55 AM
Open-air burn pits are full of toxins and dangerous. How many more of our heroes must get sick and die before the atrocities are banned. Why isn’t the media covering this? These toxic deathtraps should be at the top of our list. Not enough is being done and the government is negligent when it comes to the health of our troops.


Burn Pit Voices on Monday, February 28, 2011 10:01 AM
Folks speak out against the use of Open Air Burn Pits in war zones. The Public has the ability to use their voices in a positive way and really create positive change to current war campaigns. These war campaigns have resulted in thousands of soldiers, and contractors developing disease and illnesses many of these severe and some resulting in death, caused by the inhalation of toxic fumes. Pleasze use this website help educate the public about the disease and injuries of our military, veterans, and contractors due to toxic chemicals exposures from the burn pits in war zones.


Burn Pit Voices on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 10:31 AM
Nichole Rutledge Steven Allen English Composition ROLA 112A 03/04/11 Burn Pits and the Harm Caused As early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits, disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. Just how dangerous they were, would be shown in the years to follow. Although health warnings were given from Air Force officials and the Department of Defense regulations that were in place stated burn pits should be only be used short-term emergency situations, burn pits continue to be a common day reliance to rid many hazardous materials and toxins. The results of this are many men and women who serve this country is American soldiers getting gravely ill, if not dying, as a result of being exposed to the toxins that were in the smoke that they were forced to breathe in on a daily basis without protection. A burn pit is described as a large open space sanctioned for the sole purpose of burning waste. Solid and liquid wastes produced under field conditions can amount to 100 pounds per soldier per day without proper waste disposal and environment can become ideal for flies and rats and other vermin there are several military approved methods used to dispose of human and solid wastes as well as hazardous material wastes. The most preferred method of garbage and rubbish is burial, however, this is not always possible. Open burning of waste is not desirable when weather conditions can cause the smoke to remain close to the Rutledge 2 ground and in the direction of personnel. Therefore, the military contracted companies such as KBR, to install incinerators to be able to burn the wastes in a controlled location to help eliminate exposure to the dangerous toxins. While KBR had the materials to be able to build the incinerators, the cost of running the incinerators on a daily basis would have been exorbitant, costing millions more then what was contracted for and cutting into their profit.. The alternative, open air burn pits. (Definition taken from BurnPit lawsuit website) To understand the dangers of the toxins, one must understand what was being burned in the pits. Listed as being burned are adhesives, animal carcasses, asbestos, biohazard materials, cleaning supplies, dangerous chemicals, discarded solid waste, fluorescent light ballasts and fixtures, glues, hydraulic fluids, insulations, items containing pesticides, incomplete combustion by-products, human waste, a variety of chemicals, lacquers, lithium batteries, medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), medical and hazardous electronic waste, metals, human corpses, munitions boxes, paints, paint strippers and isocyanides in chemical agent resistant coating (CARC) paint, paper/cardboard, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) including electrical equipment, petroleum-oil-lubricating products, office equipment such as copiers, printers, monitors, plastic water bottles, polyvinyl chloride pipes, rubbers, solvents, Styrofoam, tires, trucks, and wood. In addition to these harmful toxins jet fuel is used to light the fires. While burning these items is not uncommon within an open burn pit, this is supposed to be a temporary fix until a permanent incinerator can be installed. Open burn pits are to be located where the smoke will be downwind from any base to avoid soldiers from being exposed. (USACHPPM Just the Facts documented taken from BurnPit360 website on 01/2011 also statement given by Daniel Tijerina former U.S. Army soldier via message to Nichole Rutledge on 01/24/11) One of the largest of these burn pits is located in Balad, Iraq. Spanding over 10 acres and 60 foot in depth, this pit was used on a daily basis. Balad Airbase and Iraq is the largest US base located in that country. There are approximately 20,000 troops base their which is equivalent to the size of a small city. Smoke could be seen every day; the color of the smoke would change depending on what was being burned that day. However, there was always a smell that hung. Air conditioners there were used with in tents that the soldiers resided in, would continuously stop working due to the ash from the burned pits. This to say the least is a constant overexposure to the deadly toxins that were released. (Opening statement Senator Byron L Dorgan Chairman, Democratic Party 11/06/09) Well exposure to the smoke generally causes mild signs and symptoms which include headaches, nausea, irritation of the eyes and upper respiratory reactions; such as coughing scratchy throat irritated sinuses runny nose shortness of breath and chest pain, normally these symptoms would subside and no chronic effect would be present. However, the longer one is exposed to more life-threatening and chronic the health problems would be. Some of the chronic more severe results of being exposed to the toxic are heart problems, lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and Phibromyalgia. Soldiers have also had large lesions in their abdominal cavities that had been surgically removed as well as digestive and intestinal problems. Soldiers are not only being affected by one of these chronic elements, but several if not all, due to an extended period or overexposure to the smoke from the burn pit. (Statements given on BurnPit360 website as well as personal messages sent to Nichole Rutledge via email and facebook.) While it may not have been proven at this time who the actual culprit is, it is a definite that the pits have left a long-lasting effect that can be compared to Vietnam’s Agent Orange. However, unlike Agent Orange, there were numerous accounts and statements of officials within the military trying to explain the potential dangers of the burn pits and the proper protocol to eliminate the problem. The specialists were aware that constant exposures to the smoke were going to have severe long-term effects, and warned of the potential risks. L Lieut. Col. Darrin L. Curtis, Ph. D., P. E. (Retired), testified in front of Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearings stating,” in my capacity as a bio environmental engineer, I provided preventive medicine services to service members my responsibility was to assess hazards relating to the airmen and other personnel on base in coordination with the Army preventative medicine detachments. One of the very first things I noticed upon arriving at the Balad Airbase was the smoke from the burn pit. I arrived at night and the weather conditions had caused the burn pit smoke plume to hang close to the ground. The smell was noxious and it looked like a very thick fog hanging low to the ground shortly after my arrival and inspector from the US Army’ Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (CHPPM) told me that the Balad burn pit was the worse environmental site he had ever seen, and that included the 10 years he had performed environmental cleanup work for the Army and Defense Logistics Agency. Engineer Forward. I thought it would be very difficult to capture dynamic smoke plume from the burn pit with our sampling equipment my concerns were validated during our sampling the dynamic nature of the smoke plume makes it highly unpredictable especially in close proximity to the River I saw the play moved downward in unexpected ways including the plume would rise and then come back down to the ground more than a mile away from the Burkett.” Trying to explain that any test results use from the samples would be in vain and inconclusive Lt. Col. Darin L Curtis gave what information he could during the rest of his testimony to explain the hazards of the exposure. (Testimony given to Senate Democratic Committee by Lt. Col Darin Curtis) Also quoted L. Russell Keith, a former KBR employee, during his testimony at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee concerned about the long-term health damage that is being suffered by members of armed services” I have been a nationally registered paramedic for 17 years I served as a remote duty paramedic with KBR from March 2006 until July 2007 at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. I deployed again to work for KB are from April 2008 until June 2009 and Basra. I am here today because I am concerned about the long-term health damage suffered by members of our armed services, civilian workers, and support personnel as a result of exposure to toxins from the unregulated burn pits Iraq. While I was stationed at Balad experienced the effects of the massive berm that the burn 24 hours a day seven days a week. An Astrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hanging low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape even in our living units. Ash from the smoke would seep into the air-conditioning systems and are living areas would be covered in a coating of dark so it. Our rooms had what looked like dark colored flowers spread over everything, including our beds, our clothing and the floor. We called this Iraqi talcum powder. There was no way to keep the powder out of our living quarters I could often taste of smoke in the air at the base, both inside and outside. There was nothing that KBR would not put in the burn pits. I have never heard of any KBR restrictions on what could be burned in the pits. The color of the smoke would change depending on what was burn sometimes the smoke was a yellow scholar but the worst was when the smoke would be a darker greenish color on these days the medical clinic where I worked would expect an increased number of patients all complaining of burning throats and eyes as well as painful breathing. This thick smoke was especially difficult for those working at the military mail office which was directly across the road from the pits I noticed that the smoke would be especially bothersome the new employees who are not yet experienced what we refer to as the Iraqi Crud. The acute symptoms of exposure to the burn pit smoke included but were not limited to nausea vomiting lung and sinus irritations congestion diarrhea associated dehydration and even in some of the worst cases individuals coughing up blood.” (Testimony given to Senate Democratic Policy Committee by L Russell Keith former KBR employee) These are only two of the many testimonies given from individuals and specialists, that were not only exposed to the burn pits toxic fog like smoke, but also individuals reporting to government agencies and KBR directly about the definite likelihood of severe health risks to those stationed within the smokes reach, one has to ask why were these problems not corrected. However their warnings were completely disregarded. The numbers of soldiers and former KBR employees that are reporting health problems on a daily basis continues to rise. Did the costs of building and running the incinerators really outweigh the lives of the victims that have been affected? Reports having given that incinerators are slowly replacing burn pits, however, documentation prove how many burn pits are in existence is based solely in reports from soldiers are returning home. The burn pit located in Balad as reported no longer burn, however, rather than burning for months at burnt for years, leaving in its wake many men and women that serve this country in pain. Some wondering, how long they have to live, how long they have to suffer, and if the country they serve for will repay the debt for the suffering they now have, for the families that have lost loved ones, and the children left behind. Works Cited: http://www.burnpitlawsuit.com 01/15/11 http://www.burnpits360.org 01/20/11 http://www.motleyrice.com/occupational-disease/burn-pit-litigation 01/21/11 Turn in documents printed from burnpit360.com website 01/24/11 Statements from Daniel Tijerina given via Facebook message sent directly to Nichole Rutledge and printed. 01/24/11


MSGT Jessey J Baca on Sunday, January 09, 2011 12:40 AM
MSGT Jessey J Baca 50 years old has served in the Military for 34 years of dedicated service, never has anyone heard him complain he has served his Country proudly and with honor. He has resided in Albuquerque, NM for the past 24 years, with his wife and 2 daughters, his hobbies of raising his green chilie and working in his yard, chopping wood and searching for wood to chop has come to a standstill, he probably has enough wood to last 5 years, his greatest passion has been watching his grandchildren play in the back yard that he has perfected for them. All of this has come to a complete stop do to his health issues that began in 2004 after his first tour of duty in Balad, Iraq in Camp Anaconda where the largest Burn Pits are located he started to suffer from the effects of the Burn Pits or as it is called the Iraqi Crud which consist of flu like symptoms as well as Upper Respiratory Problems they would treat him with various antibiotics that never made a difference, on his return home he saw his family doctor as well as the doctors at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, NM where they continued to call it a flu bug or a common cold yet his body would hurt all over, as well as fevers, cold chills, night sweats, cough and bloody mucus would not let up, all of the test would come out negative or as their favorite word to use inconclusive, he passed his deployment physical and returned back to Iraq in 2007 serving once again at Camp Anaconda in Blad, his conditioned worsened and ended up in sick bay and bed rest for a week at this point the black smoke was worst then the first time in 2004 Jessey was never the same never felt good had a loss of energy, appetite, diarrhea, fevers, cold chills, night sweats, at one point while in Balad he noticed that he had a spot on his nose and every time he touched it, it would bleed for no apparent reason, upon his return back to Albuquerque he saw Doctor Skye Connelly where he diagnosed him with Basil Cell Carcinoma 3 layers deep. He has gone through several Biopsies’ for skin cancer since then; Jessey started to notice that he had several lumps on the left side of his face below his jaw line and noticed that his body hair was disappearing, he then started to notice his hands swelling and lumpy, swollen stomach and hard, massive headaches, fatigue, sinus, spitting up bloody mucus, loss of hearing; we began seeking medical treatment from one doctor to another including Infectious Decease, Pulmonary, Internal Medicine, ENT, Rheumatologist to no avail could anyone find what was wrong with him and what was causing all of this, after numerous MRI’s, CT Scans, X-rays, Vials of blood and more blood. We finally asked for a consultation from a Pathologist Doctor Don Fisher which we paid out of our own pocket $450 an hour our visit consisted of being there 3 ½ hours, of examining Jessey and found what he called 9 tumors in his hands and did feel at least 7 in his neck area and yet could not find why this was happening, he ordered lab test of approximately 14 tubes of blood and still could not find what Chemical could be causing this at this point he had us return back to Doctor Gerald Brown, (Pulmonary) Doctor Brown sent Jessey to see a Orthopedic Doctor but he had no clue what was causing all of this, except to repeat every test that every Doctor had already performed over and over again we went back to Doctor Gerald Brown where he sent him back to Doctor Seth Lowell, Doctor Lowell felt what he thought could be Nod gels in his neck after more test and 4 visits later he ordered a needle biopsy and yet it was still inconclusive he sent us back to the Pulmonologist by this time doctor Gerald Brown was at his wits ends and referred Jessey to National Jewish Hospital in Denver, CO (February 23, 2010) where we saw Doctor Cecile Rose a Pulmonary Specialist who performed a variety of test and told us that she had just visited with Doctor Robert Miller from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who discovered Constrictive Brochiolitis in several soldiers (constrictive bronchiolitis (CB), is a rare and life-threatening form of non-reversible obstructive lung disease in which the bronchioles (small airway branches) are compressed and narrowed by fibrosis (scar tissue) and/or inflammation.) she felt sure that Jessey was suffering from this illness because of the findings that Doctor Robert Miller had discovered on several Soldiers, she still did not have as much evidence as she would of hoped for, upon returning back to Albuquerque we followed up with doctor Gerald Brown and he sent us to our Primary Care, doctor Patricia Bryant who had no clue what we were talking about let alone interested in what was wrong with Jessey we asked her for a referral to see Doctor Robert Miller at Vanderbilt she sent a referral through to Presbyterian approval department alright but with a misdiagnoses of Chronic Bronchitis so the Insurance Company Presbyterian denied Jessey we learned of that decision while in Dallas, TX (July 27, 2010) on our way to Nashville, TN, we continued to Vanderbilt to seek help from Doctor Miller even though the insurance was not willing to cover stating that National Jewish was our 2nd opinion when they were our 1st opinion we still saw doctor Miller and he felt firm with the Constrictive Bronchiolitis, he sent us back home to deal with the Insurance company so that they can reverse the denial so that Doctor Robert Miller could move on with the proper testing as well as a possible Open Lung Biopsy, we were given the ok to receive a follow up visit (November 8, 2010) as well as a visit with a Rheumatologist at Vanderbilt, now we wait again for a approval to go back for a consultation with a Thoracic Surgeon, ENT as well as with Doctor Miller to confirm the diagnoses of Constrictive Bronchiolitis and the Tumors on Jesseys neck. We have come to the end of our road now we wait on the insurance company to allow us to go back we are going broke, we have started to receive help from Air Compassion Flights who will now take over our air travel, thanks to information from other families that are going through the same health/financial issues as us, we are on our own when it comes down to our hotel accommodations, meals, Rental Cars etc. We have lost so much quality time with our family because of Jessey’s illness. Jessey pushes himself everyday to go work just not to give up he has been with the New Mexico Air National Guard as a Federal Employee for 26 years as well as Active Duty 1 weekend a month for 30 years not including his Active Duty in the Navy for 4 years; to see Jessey one would never know how sick he really is. He struggles everyday to get up and not just sit there thinking about what tomorrow will bring. We do not see the ER Doctors at the VA Medical Center, Jessey as well as our family experienced a nightmare with a ER doctor that did not have a clue what was really wrong with Jessey instead they called in Physic to make him as well as his family believe that he was suffering from PTSD they would not hear of anything else or did they want to know what he was really going through they wanted me to believe that my husband was really crazy yet I would not buy it so they got angry and accused me of not caring because I would not believe that he was suffering from PTSD and that they wanted to commit him into ward 3 for PTSD they have no clue or do they want to have a clue what a lot of these soldiers are suffering from if you ask for a referral to Vanderbilt they would rather send you to another VA facility or they accuse the families of being in denial for PTSD, well as we see it PTSD does not cause Constrictive Bronchiolitis, Tumors, Fevers, Bloody Mucus, Stomach Problems, Basil Cell etc. We have fought a long battle to get this far; we have paid for private Medical Insurance Premiums totaling (approximate) $216,320.00 in 26 years of being a Technician not including what his employer has paid (approximate) totaling $634.000.00 as a federal Employee, this still does not include any co-payments that have been paid out by us, we should be able to seek the treatment we need without begging for help! If we had a doctor willing to perform the much needed open lung biopsy here in Albuquerque we would be willing to do so but we have yet to find a doctor willing to even discuss performing the surgery, this certainly would save us a ton of money, but as doctor Gerald Brown stated to us on numerous occasions that he is not and will not perform such a procedure and that there is not one doctor in NM that he knows of that has the experience to perform such a procedure; so this leaves us no other option but to seek help out of network, out of state, at this point and time Doctor Robert F Miller is the only Doctor in the Country that was willing to put his career on the line and perform this procedure on a strong suspicion and found to be 100% correct on approximately 67 Soldiers out of 72. If we were to continue to seek help here in NM through the VA/Presbyterian my husband would be a drug addict, the only questions the doctors ask Jessey at the VA are what kind of narcotic would you like to try MSGT Baca we now have you on Vicodin so how about Morphine and as far as Presbyterian is concerned it is we need a co-payment again for a repeat of the same test that you have already had 3, 4, & 5 times oh wait let’s send you for more lab work and repeat those test again and again and then let’s see what other drug we can give you Mr. Baca for a illness we have no clue about, so let’s prescribe another drug! We have made calls to the appeals department at Presbyterian Health Plan and they never return our calls and the one time that Lydia did return the call it was as if we were bothering her, rather than her seeing that we are a family that cares about our loved one and wants the best for him. We contacted the staff at Doctor Miller’s office where they wait to move forward but their hands are tied because Presbyterian Health Plan appeals department (Lydia) will not call them back either. All we want is a quality of life for Jessey we know that the quality of life that he did have he will never gain back. You the Insurance Company/Congress/Media, etc have the power to save our loved ones who have served our country and who protect me and who protects you and your loved ones. Maria M Baca 505-261-3942 505-918-6021 505-873-2282 E-mail: mariabacam@aol.com UPDATE: As of January 1, 2011 we can no longer wait for Presbyterian Medical Insurance (HMO) so we have had no choice but to transfer over to a full PPO Blue Cross Blue Shield. More out of pocket expenses of deductibles, as well as co pays. God help us!
Reply to comment
 
Joanne Ochs-Loving Memory of SSG Ochs on Friday, January 14, 2011 12:23 PM
God bless you and your family. What else can you do to get the care for your loved one? Isn't anyone listening out there?


Theresa Jones on Tuesday, July 05, 2011 4:36 PM
It is so true the VA has no desire to find out what is actually wrong because narcotics are so much cheaper and most veterans think that is all thye aerentitled to, pain management. I am 28 years old and on more medicine then I can tolerate. Why won't they do these necessary tests why is it so much easier to tell us that everything is in our head and that we are being paranoid.


Jill R. Wilkins, Widow of USAF Major Kevin E. Wilkins, RN on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:42 PM
United States Air Force Reservist, Major Kevin E. Wilkins, RN, was with the 920th ASTS Reserve Unit at Patrick AFB, Florida. He went on his first tour to Balad, Iraq, May 2006 to August 2006 where he cared for our critically injured soldiers and civilians at the Balad Air Force Base Hospital while being assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron. His second tour was January 2007 through April 2007 where he was assigned to the CCAT team in Qatar, flying missions in and out of active war areas transporting our soldiers to various hospitals. Kevin’s headaches started approximately 6 months after his first tour. In the beginning, he just treated his headaches with medication until the medication no longer responded. He had a CAT scan on March 26, 2008 and he died on April 1, 2008 from a brain tumor. The emergency room physician, who did the original CAT scan, asked Kevin if he had been exposed to any toxic chemicals while on tour in Iraq, and Kevin told him about the “burn pit”. The physician told Kevin that the chemicals from the burn pit may have caused the brain mass, and should be investigated. Major Wilkins died within 1 year of his last deployment. Major Wilkins has received many service awards over the years with his last award being, “The Meritorious Service Medal” (First Oak Leaf Cluster) 1 January 2005 to April 2008. The children and I are now receiving DIC Benefits (but not without a struggle).
Reply to comment


Joanne Ochs-Mother of a Fallen Soldier on Friday, January 14, 2011 11:02 AM
This is a great site. We need more public awareness regarding this "angent orange" of the 21st century. May God heal all that have fallen ill to the dreaded "burn pits" exposure.
Reply to comment
 
Teresa Messer on Friday, February 04, 2011 11:30 PM
As I read these heartwrenching accounts of precious lives, and those of the battles that have been lost as a direct result of the BURNPITS. I am angered at the disloyalty exhibited to our military, yet ever so heartbroken for the families. I am familiar with many of the soldiers stories, however familiarity does not stop me from crying each and everytime I read them. May god bless each of you... I became very aware of this issue when my best friend Joanne Ochs lost her precious son SSG STEVEN OCHS, who passed July 12,2008 from AML, stemming from exposure to TOXIC fumes emitted from the "BURNPITS". The tragic series of events that engulfed the Ochs' family prior to Steven's passing remains very vivid in my memory. Numerous telephone conversations containing esquitely detailed descriptions from a loving mother, sister, and family who watched so helplessly as SSG. Steven Ochs's, body was ravaged, tortured, and manipulated by this executioner called "Leukemia". God Bless you Steven. Although I wasn't present in NC when Steven passed, I spoke to Joanne daily, usually at 2 hour intervals while she remained bed-side with Steven, the massive soldier with the even bigger smile. Jo spoke of the physical changes, the numerous procedures, along with the bouts of vomitting and diarrhea during each conversation. We cryed during each converstaion, we questioned each process and procedure, but more than anything else we PRAYED for his survival... It was all we knew to do, was to PRAY. It was inconceivable to everyone how such a vigorous,healthy young man of 32, who had never been sick had acquired such an disease. From all the conversations and prayers I remember more than ever I still hear Joanne saying, "I know he is so tired and sick, and that he is hurting very bad, but ya know he never complains, just keeps that grin and tells me it will be fine". Steven's famous saying to his mom until he passed July 12,2008. 'Mom it will be fine, worry about what you can change and don't worry about what you can't'. This is true Steven... The loss of a child is definately the most horrific ordeal a parent could ever experience. However, understanding completely the detrimental experience could have been prevented proves to increase the pain. Fully aware of the massacrer effect of the "BURNPITS" I can only pray for the families who have lost their sons,daughters and spouses. I also envision a day when our soldiers are no longer exposed to the deadly toxic emisions billowing in the air from the 'BURNPITS'. I can also provide support to effectively strengthen the forces to resolve such irresponsible and henious actions. Actions that have been allowed to impose tragedy amongst our soldiers and their families. Please make EVERYONE aware of the tragedy experienced by our military and their families.


april storms on Saturday, February 05, 2011 4:52 PM
I am a friend of Joanne Ochs, mother of a fallen soldier, I know that she and her family went thru hell when she lost her son SSG Steven Ochs to the ravages of pain and illness caused by the burnpits, I think it is appalling that our men and women who have served their country protecting us are becoming so ill and losing their lives because of these burn pits, i also think it is appalling that our country and VA has thrown them to the wayside, ignoring their pain and illnesses, These men and women have lost time with their families, have missed their children being born, their children growing up, for US, not for themselves or for the glory, but for US, the people of the united states, and for their symptoms and illnesses to be ignored or not treated is wrong, I am disgusted with our government.....I also have another friend who's husband was in iraq, he is now dealing with a ton of symptoms and now I am sure this is what is causing his pain also


Robyn Massie on Thursday, February 17, 2011 7:33 AM
These stories are all very hard to read. They hurt your heart and I've cried more than once while reading them. I was blessed with a wonderful friend who had to go through this and it still breaks my heart, knowing what she went through and is still going through. I will send this website to others I know to help raise awareness. I love you Jo and you and you family will always be in my thoughts and prayers


Aubrey Tapley on Friday, January 14, 2011 9:11 PM
My name is Aubrey Tapley, my maiden name was Aubrey Maguire, I was in the United States Army and I was station in Iraq in 2004. Our company was Camp Anaconda/Balad Air force Base from April 2004 until about August of 2004. After leaving Camp Anaconda our company was split and my platoon moved south to Tallil Air force Base. While in Tallil I was in and out of the hospital for severe pelvic pain. The doctors kept treating me for infections without knowing really what was wrong with me. After being hospitalized for a week on antibiotics I was released and within another week I was back with more unanswered questions. Finally the doctors decided to send me to Germany for an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a huge mass on my right ovary. I was sent to Ft. Stewart, GA for laparoscopic surgery. The doctor had thought that the mass must be a cyst on my ovary but if fact it turned out to be endometriosis. After recovering from the surgery I was sent back to my duty station in Puerto Rico. I had called the endometriosis association to ask what could cause the severe endometriosis and was informed that the only know cause other than heredity was dioxin. I e-mailed the First Sergeant to ask if the bug spray that was sprayed nightly in Tallil could have dioxin in it he got the ingredients and sent them to me they did not contain anything that had dioxin in it. Until the information came out about the burn pits I have been at a loss. Since 2004 I have undergone four surgeries because of the endometriosis. In order to get pregnant with my two beautiful children I had to have a laparoscopic surgery to remove the scarred tissue from the endometriosis then go on lupron which puts you through menopause for six months (thank goodness my husband really loves me) then we had a six month window to get pregnant. When my son was six months old I started having pain again and went back to my doctor. We had tried all of the treatments that were available and I ended up having a hysterectomy in June of 2009. I was 29 at the time and it has been very difficult for me to know that I will never have the option to be able to have another child. I also had my gallbladder removed at the age 27 because I had over 12 gallstones in it. I now am suffering from fibromyalgia, which we have recently found out is rheumatoid arthritis and by the end of the work week spend 16 to 18 hours a day on the weekend in bed because I am so worn out and tired. Research has shown that having endometriosis raises your risk of having fibromyalgia by at least 30%. Now, I am trying to figure out what is wrong with my hands and will soon be getting a nerve test done. From my wrists up they are constantly in a dull achy state, I can hardly write and I have no strength to open even an envelope at times. I have a lot of sinus problems that I never had before and suffer from severe migraines. I had a CT scan done because my migraines were so bad that I had a headache for three weeks straight. Within the last year I have been diagnosed with asthma and probable constrictive bronchilitis. I am now 31 years old and have the body of a 60 year old. I am now a first grade teacher and it takes all of my strength to keep going every day. I don't know from day to day how bad the pain will be and I can't function if I take the medicine to make it better. My husband is a floor layer and in today's economy it takes both of us to keep the bills paid. I am not a vindictive person and I really don't care about the money but I feel that if KBR knew that what they were doing could harm us then they should have to answer for it. The dangers of war were bad enough and I made it home safe, or so I thought. I want to be able to play with my kids and be at all of their school functions not be lying in my bed too tired to leave my house. I have tried to get help from the VA with only frustration in return. I have given up on the system and use my personal insurance for medical care because the VA takes months to get me help and then they have you go from doctor to doctor and I can't drive an hour away from where I live constantly to seek help.
Reply to comment


Rachael Brown on Monday, January 17, 2011 9:13 PM
Iraq I was deployed to Camp Bucca Jan of 2007. I had 2 weeks prior to that to mentally prepare myself as I was a replacement for someone who dropped off the team. Bucca changed my views about almost every aspect in my life. My attitude was the biggest result of change. Before I was happy go lucky, outgoing kind almost to a fault and completely naive to the military. I was always fumbling with my gear and my words. It was rare that I knew what I was doing as a cop and how to do it. I was 20 year old and hadn’t left North America until going to Iraq. I was the highest ranking A1C on my team and I had only one year in, with the lowest ranking having 5 months in the military. Within the first month I noticed a change in my behavior. I had a long day at work. I worked from 1100 am until 12-1 am normally 6 to 7 days a week with 1 day off in between. This night I worked until about 4 am because of a riot that had kicked off. Then we got yelled at for about an hour. I was down depressed and highly upset. I wanted to talk to my Fiancé so I called him. I was not expecting him to cheer me up, that was what my best friend was for; but when he pissed me off even worse I hung up on him. I didn’t yell or scream or even tell him it was over I just stopped calling him. After about a day or so I didn’t even care what I had done or upset that it was over. I was racially discriminated against because I was white and the leadership in my compound was black. I was at compound 10, 16 was directly behind us then the burn pits spanning no more than a block and a half from where I worked. I inhaled the burn pits and watched as burning plastic flew by me every day. I only lived about a half mile from my compound the whole base smelled like a mixture of chemicals and sun fermented poop. Not to mention that the porter potties serviced over 1000 people a day and only got cleaned 2 a day. The ammonia from the porter potties made me gag and were highly overwhelming. I have pictures of smog from the pits being so bad that the sun was grey instead of orange. Any problems I had medically while I was there was treated with 800 mg of Motrin and sent back to work just as everyone else has experienced. I don’t know how else to explain my experience but horrendous and tragic. Before I went to Bucca I was a lifer after 5 months of being stuck there I was out of the military as soon as my contract expired. When I came back I had issues with all my leadership and if it was easy to get fired from the military I would of based on insubordination and disrespect to my superiors. Post Iraq I got out of the Air force Oct 2009. I am now 24 years of age I am currently disabled at 60%. I am not able to work, do chores around the house requiring the use of chemicals. They have issued me In-home care and are in the process of issuing me a scooter/wheelchair because of my back. I am unable to lift 10-15 pounds without severe pain most days. My first job since I got out was being a certified nursing assistant (my dream is to be a registered nurse ) I had to quit that job in 2 months because I was endangering my elderly residents with my back flaring up to the state it is now. I can barely walk most days since Dec 01 2010. I stay disconnected from my friends and family to prevent them from knowing about all my medical problems/worrying about me. My roommate has been caring for me as if I am her 3rd child. My home care starts in a few days. It is so frustrating being a burden on her and making her cook, clean and do all the things I can no longer do. My parents described me before as there social butterfly and very goal oriented now they say I’m irritable closed off and it’s almost impossible to make me smile not to mention seeing me go through all my medical issues. I continue to live in CA because I can’t bare to have my family see what I am now. I want my family to look up to me the way they always have. There is only so much pretending I can do to make everyone believe that I am “OK”. I only go home 1 or 2 a year because of this. My family and friends tell me how different ive become. It is horrible to live the life I currently do at the age of 24 I shouldn’t be walking like I’m 70+ and feeling the same. I live only a sliver of the life I did before. My medical issues keep getting worse. My Primary Care nurse at the VA has accused me of basically being a hypochondriac cause my tests so far have been negative, one of my mental health nurses at the VA told me that my sexual trauma was my fault and that I was picking up my problems and carrying them around with me. I don’t have medical insurance because I can’t afford it so the VA is my only means for help. Symptoms Burning sensation in my arms, legs and in my back (doc says its Neuropathy normally seen in elderly starting at age 60-70) Still doing neurological work up. Possible left sided weakness. I’ve been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder even though there is NO GENETIC link came on about 3-4 months after being exposed to the burn pits. My doctor says there’s no connection and I would have had it regardless, I don’t believe her. I have a clear mucus/cold like symptoms every day. Nasal Retention Cyst the feels the size of a pea. Constant nasal drip also clear. I'm always coughing. I have shortness of breath; chest pains feels like my lungs are being stabbed with a knife in multiple areas at different times of the day. I can’t run, i cant inhale any type of chemicals without bringing on an attack. I have bad memory loss, hearing loss back pain/arthritis. They have issued me In-home care and are in the process of issuing me a scooter/wheelchair because of my back. Possibility of edema of the spine(swelling/inflammation). I lack concentration not being able to sleep at night. I have chronic fatigue. I am unable to be around others for extended periods, lack of respect for people in leadership positions. Chronic all over pain my feet and hands turning colors of blue, purple, red and various other colors. I have chronic nightmares and mental breakdowns. I am constantly overwhelmed by simple tasks. I can’t even think about multi-tasking like going to the bank the post office and a friend’s house all at once or I have panic attacks. Heart races mind goes blank I normally have to drop 2 out of 3 tasks. I’m grumpy irritable and just flat out rude at times to the ones I love. I was NEVER like this before. Urinary and sometimes bowel incontinence. Unexplained weight loss several times over the last 3 years 10-25 pounds. Illnesses I currently have been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder, post nasal drip, "asthma" post nasal drip "allergy's" traumatic arthritis in my back. Slipped disk in my transmandibular joint (in my jaw). PTSD Neuropathy in my extremities, Renaud's Syndrome. Insomnia and that’s all I can recall at this time. Just like every other soldier know this information is to help out not for you to feel sorry for us. Hope sharing this information helps all of you. I am also seeking out others who have been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder after their burn pit exposure to prove a connection to VA compensation.
Reply to comment
 
Rachael on Monday, January 17, 2011 9:37 PM
I would also like to add that I have constant muscle twitching all over my body including weird places like my face, ribs,and stomach. I have had to have nasal surgery due to a deviated septum and nasal constriction. I still don't have full nasal function. The doctors have told me I have a lot of scar tissue in my nose as well as a bright red colored inflammation in my nose.


Courtney on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:03 PM
Yep, Bucca will do that to you. I was at Bucca in 2008 for 10 months. I am 25 yrs old receiving %60 disability and just found out today that I have spots on my brain, still waiting on a DX. It has to be the burnpits. I am like you I used to be such a happy, laid back girl but now I am angry, paranoid, anxious and suffering from chronic headaches. I worked in the TIF hospital and was exposed to everything including that burn pit in 16, the hospital was compound 11 as I am sure you remember, unless your like me and have a terrible memory these days...BURN PITS!!! wish you the best, keep pressing on!


Ronnal Womack on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 7:59 PM
I was working as a contractor with KBR/SEII from 23 December 2007 to around 18 July 2008. I am also a retired Navy person too. During 23 December 2007 to 18 July 2008, I worked and traveled conducting archive and storage training to contract employees of KBR/SEE. Most of the time I had to see if I could use other department personnel vehicles to ride around to set up and conduct the archive and storage training. Most of the time I had to walk to various areas at different sites almost every day while military and other KBR contract management type personnel drove up and down the dirt roads while I was walking to work or to get food at the DFAC or cafeteria to eat. Yes, dust was always in the air along with the burn pit smoke in the areas where I traveled but the company did not provide any mask for any health risk and there were not any biological warfare gas masked provided as well as far as I remember. Some of the areas I traveled or worked at are in the areas of Sadaam Hussein Palaces in Iraq at Camp Victory area; FOB Marez in Mosul, Iraq; Camp Diamondback HQ in Mosul, Iraq; FOB Sykes in Tallafar, Iraq; FOB Q-West or Endurance in Quyarrah, Iraq; and traveled through the Baghdad areas awaiting transportation to catch numerous of flights and walked around in area while waiting for flights for numerous of days; Attended "Train the Trainer" Instructor course at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq area for about a week and walked around areas there also; was flown to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia to attend archives and storage manager training for about three weeks or a month, then was flown back to Baghdad to attend the instructor training. During this period my blood pressure went up and would not come down for some apparent reason, so I was sent to a cardiologist in Kuwait to see what was going on. While doing the exercises my heartbeat and blood pressure had more problems. I requested not to go home because I had a daughter who I had to put through college and this was one reason why I came to work overseas. I then got approved to go back to work. On 7 July 2008 I was in the armored vehicle called a "Rhino Runner" and the vehicle ran over an remote controlled IED that killed five personnel and injured numerous other personnel and I was one of the injured ones. When I got home and breathed the better air seems that something was going wrong with me. This is when I began to have shortness of breath while walking and sleeping, coughing a lot, stinging and burning in lung areas, and then I had blood clots in both sides of my lung areas. I had throat problems, and all I could smell and taste was metal and dust. The doctors reports stated that the blood clots did not come from my lower extremities and they could not find out why it happened. I still have shortness of breath problems upon exertion and while walking upstairs and around any areas; had to be on air cylinders for 21 days for oxygen treatment; use a CPAP mschine to help sleep due to sleep problems; chest pains and stinging and burning sensations in left and right lung areas; seizure-like activities in my brain and neck areas; twitching in back muscles, arms, and legs; eye burning and sensitivity to light problems; neuralgae; COPD; abdominal bloating problems; colonoscopy results showed multiple rectal polyps and diverticulosis of colon or hyperplastic polyps (benigh)and endoscopy test showed mild gastritis and erosive esophagitis and waiting the results on biopsy test report. I did not have any of these problems before until I went to Iraq. My blood pressure was only borderline and now I am on about four different blood pressure pills and heart medications. I am now almost broke due to me paying for a lot of my own medical bills from the IED explosion injuries as well as paying my own funds to go see other doctors for the burn pit issues. KBR/SEII insurance carrier, AIG, did not allow me and was not going to pay any of these burnpit medical bills for me. So I am stuck with paying the doctors myself and using my wife's federal blue cross/blue shields and my retired military tricare prime retiree medical insurance. I am so scared that one day I will not be able to see my children or wife and also worry about what else is going wrong inside of me.
Reply to comment
 
Ronnal on Tuesday, March 08, 2011 9:35 PM
I have also found out I also have blood tinged nasal problems in my nostril areas too. The ENT doctor has diagnosed me with the same nose problems mentioned with one of the other personnel comments.


Lauren Frazier on Friday, January 21, 2011 8:37 AM
On 26 October 2006, I left for deployment training in advance of being sent to Iraq for a year. I successfully completed 4 months of arduous, tactical Army combat training and deployed to Baghdad, Iraq on 04 March 2007. Upon arrival with the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion, in Baghdad, Iraq, I was chosen to be a Convoy Driver. Due to extensive automotive experience and personal maturity, I was chosen to be the Lead Driver and trainer for the Battalion Convoy Team / PSD Team. During my 12 months in Iraq, I participated in hundreds of missions, over 95% of them, as the Lead Driver. I compiled a partial list of some of the FOB’s / Routes I have been on. I have been awarded an Army Commendation Medal and an Army Drivers Badge (over 7000 miles required) for my efforts. It was as an integral part of very busy Combat Patrol Team, I travelled throughout Iraq, on the ground, in my M1151 (HUMVEE) and in that position as a Combat Patrol Driver, that I developed severe pain in both of my wrists, 3 or 4 months into my tour. I notified our Company medic and the First Sergeant, but there was very little that could be done in theater to relieve the pain, other than taking 800mg Motrin, given out by the medic’s. The pain in both hands was consistent and constant. It remained the entire time I was in Iraq. I noted this on the PDHRA filled out in Baghdad in January 2008, (prior to redeploying back home). Additionally, I made note of the problem when I checked into the Expeditionary Combat Readiness Command, Norfolk, VA on 3/12/08. I was instructed there to have the problem looked at when I returned home. In addition to the pain in my wrists, I developed a severe chest cold about half way through my tour in Iraq. I never got over the deep, dry cough. I noted this on the PDHRA as well. I also mentioned this at Norfolk, ECRC and asked for a chest x-ray. The x-ray was done, but the results were lost and not forwarded (at that time) to MacDill 6th MED Group. I have since been advised that the results later turned up. It took 4 months to convince the Air Force doctor at Macdill AFB, that I needed to see a specialist since she refused to provide me with even an emergency inhaler, in spite of findings on the X-Rays that appeared to be(as stated by 3 Radiologists) TB scars and over-inflated lungs. I was finally referred to a civilian pulmonologist in the summer of 2008. I began treatment with Dr. Arthur Andrews (pulmonologist) on: 6/25/08. The treatment has progressed as follows: I cut my smoking from a pack a day to less than half a pack. By October 2008, I had quit. Several tests were done to determine cause of breathing problems, including but not limited to; chest x-rays, MRI, stress test and a methacholine challenge – which was positive. Based on that result, Dr. Andrews then performed a lung biopsy to rule out any foreign bacteria growth. The biopsy was negative for any malignancies or bacteria’s. The end result diagnosis is Reactive Airway Disease, the cause is unknown – EXCEPT – that I passed my last PT test before deployment with a run time of 12:20. As always, my run times were excellent – particularly to note for my age (42) and I was heavily exposed to a wide variety of burning material during my service in Iraq. Dr. Andrews noted his correlation in my records repeatedly. Began a treatment program of ADVAIR 250/50 (2x a day), Singulair 10mg (1x a day) and a Ventolin Rescue inhaler as needed (average is 3 or 4 times a week). By mid April 09, I was beginning to struggle with keeping up with normal tasks (climbing stairs, carrying laundry to the washer, etc). I met again with Dr. Andrews and he determined that I might benefit from an increase in my medication for a while, to determine if the season (Spring / Allergies) was aggravating my condition. Dr. Andrews doubled my ADVAIR to 500/100 (2x a day) and suggested Alavert 10mg dissolvable tables (over-the-counter medicine) in addition to my other medications. In spite of the increase in medication, my FVE has decreased from 79% to 75% and my oxygen saturation rate has declined to 84%. After being home almost three years, I contacted Dr. Robert Miller for a second opinion on my lung condition. The synopsis of our meeting is that he does not believe I have “Reactive Airway Disease” but rather Constrictive Bronchialitis. But because I have a 30% VA rating for my lungs, he does not recommend the invasive deep-tissue, lung biopsy as there will not be any added value to my ratings, case or continued care. The positive note of that meeting was that not only do I know now what is wrong with me, but can provide direct correlation to the U.S. Navy, between my lung disease and the toxins I was exposed to while serving in Iraq. The U.S. Navy Formal MEB did NOT find my lung disease “UNFITTING FOR DUTY” and did NOT grant me ANY disability rating for this disease, even though the DoD is required by Federal Law to follow ANY rating from the VA (if given already prior to the MEB – which mine was). This Board also overturned the Lower Board’s determination that the lung disease WAS unfitting and rated it at 30%. Neither Board found my injuries or illness to be “COMBAT RELATED”. I fault the JAG assigned to me during the MEB process for these Board decisions. He was lazy, uneducated in Navy MEB regulations, Federal Law and the VA – WARMS rating criteria for my injuries and illness. He also was extremely UN-motivated to actually conduct representation as he was preparing for his own deployment and repeatedly told me he was “too busy” to actually do any research into my case issues. He provided ZERO representation during the hearings and demanded that I provide the VA rating codes and explanation of same for my injuries and illness. I have since learned just how poorly I was represented and now must appeal these Board Decisions to the Federal Court of Appeals, at my own expense. It was the poorest example of legal representation I have ever encountered in a 25 year career in the legal community.
Reply to comment
 
Lauren Frazier on Friday, January 21, 2011 8:53 AM
Addendum to my story: In addition to the C/B I have, the dr's have also discovered 2 large lumps in my left breast. MRI and Ultrasound inconclusive, so they are going to be removed. I have cyst's developing at joint points all over my body and no one can explain them. Had one removed last July from my between my fingers because I couldn't bend them anymore and having one removed 1/26/11 from my foot (where it has grown so large that it cut off nerves to my toes). And last but not least - I have developed severe IBS (both types). Never know now what to eat or not eat as everything seems to irritate it more. Lost 10 pounds just in a month.


Mitch Gill on Friday, January 21, 2011 11:08 AM
I joined the Army National Guard in 2004 after a 20 year break in service. I passed all physicals, passed the annual PT test and was placed in the rear as my Brigade was already in Iraq and I was required to go to another MOS school (my old USAF MOS was too old). I finally got my school completed and in April 2006 I volunteered for Iraq and joined up with the North Carolina National Guard at COP Speicher. They went home in September and I then volunteered with the Minnesota National Guard at Tallil AB (Camp Adder). During my stay in Iraq I have been to Marez, Balad, Baghdad and a few smaller locations that I don’t remember their names. I remember at COB Speicher that I could turn on my flashlight at night and point it towards the sky and the particulates falling looked like snow. We ate, drank and bathed in the stuff. Speicher also had burn pits. There were several around the base and could be found by just following the large columns of black smoke. I never visited one but I can tell you I began experiencing problems not long after arriving. One was a persistent cough (I was a smoker at that time and just racked it up to a smokers cough) and my energy level was very low. I and others had the runs constantly and I still do every morning. As I said earlier, the North Carolina Guard went home in September and I went to Balad for a few days where the air tasted like metal and the smoke made it look like a fog had settled on the base. From there I went to Tallil to join the Minnesota Guard. At Tallil I had an extra duty of guarding Iraqi workers working on the roads on Tallil. Most of the time was near a large burnpit next to a building. Here I began experiencing dizziness and fatigue but it did not become extreme until March 2007. At that time I began having chest pains, light headed, and fatigue. I made it to my job but the symptoms remained for 2 hours and I finally asked someone to take me to Emergency Room where I was evacuated out to Baghdad and then to Landstuhl, Fort Bliss and then home to Madigan at Fort Lewis until I was released in November. I did not have a heart attack and my heart is healthy but here is what they have found since that time; memory problems and lack of sex drive (they attribute to PTSD), lung issues (first they thought I had Pulmonary Fibrosis, then, after two biopsys which they punctured my lung in one, it was emphysema and now they don’t believe I have emphysema/COPD or interstitial lung disease, but not sure why I still have breathing problems…testing continues). I was also found to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. As for my skin, I have acitintic keratosis which I was told was a pre-cancer lumps that they froze off. I still get lesions that become crusty and hard but have now been told those are age spots. I still work but I am in bed by 930 to get up at 530 which is not that big of a deal but on the weekend I sleep 12-14 hours. I take naps every day when I get home. I am always tired and any physical work causes me to lose my breath. I still have a cough at times and it causes pain in my chest. Many days I am physically sick in the morning for the first 2 hours or so. Bottom line is that we all went over there after passing several physicals and came back with all sorts of problems. It is sad to note that many of us have similar symptoms and were exposed to whatever was burned in the burn pits yet they still burn. Our quality of life has been lowered and I have no illusion to living to the same ripe old age as my parents or grandparents. Someone needs to pay for what we are going through and what our families are going through.
Reply to comment
 
Mitch Gill on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:38 PM
Last week (April 14 2011) my Doctor finally had a chance to review my biopsy performed while I was still on Active Duty after I was evacuated out of Iraq. It was performed at Madigan Army Hospital in early 2008 at Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. With 30 minutes he told me that I have RADs or Reactive Airway Disease which is "environmental". He based this on the autopsy, my symptoms that occured so fast and causedmy evacuation and my continual symptoms. It is the first time anyone has acknowledged that my problem was due to something in the air when I was in Iraq. I am getting a copy of my medical records stating that.


Mitch Gill on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:38 PM
Last week (April 14 2011) my Doctor finally had a chance to review my biopsy performed while I was still on Active Duty after I was evacuated out of Iraq. It was performed at Madigan Army Hospital in early 2008 at Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. With 30 minutes he told me that I have RADs or Reactive Airway Disease which is "environmental". He based this on the autopsy, my symptoms that occured so fast and causedmy evacuation and my continual symptoms. It is the first time anyone has acknowledged that my problem was due to something in the air when I was in Iraq. I am getting a copy of my medical records stating that.


Mitch Gill on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:40 PM
Last week (April 14 2011) my Doctor finally had a chance to review my biopsy performed while I was still on Active Duty after I was evacuated out of Iraq. It was performed at Madigan Army Hospital in early 2008 at Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. With 30 minutes he told me that I have RADs or Reactive Airway Disease which is "environmental". He based this on the autopsy, my symptoms that occured so fast and causedmy evacuation and my continual symptoms. It is the first time anyone has acknowledged that my problem was due to something in the air when I was in Iraq. I am getting a copy of my medical records stating that.


Mitch Gill on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:40 PM
Last week (April 14 2011) my Doctor finally had a chance to review my biopsy performed while I was still on Active Duty after I was evacuated out of Iraq. It was performed at Madigan Army Hospital in early 2008 at Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. With 30 minutes he told me that I have RADs or Reactive Airway Disease which is "environmental". He based this on the autopsy, my symptoms that occured so fast and causedmy evacuation and my continual symptoms. It is the first time anyone has acknowledged that my problem was due to something in the air when I was in Iraq. I am getting a copy of my medical records stating that.


Lindsay Weidman on Saturday, January 22, 2011 9:45 PM
My daughter was SSGT Danielle Marie Nienajadlo. She deployed out in April 2008 healthy and happy and not sick. She was with the 602nt Maintenence Co. Ft. Hood Texas. She went to Balad, Iraq. I recieved a phone call the night of July 29, 2008 that Danielle was at that very moment being medivac out of Balad with stage 4 AML Leukiema. She then reached WRAMC where she was in a coma for 10 days and struggling to live with being totally saturated with cancer. She stayed in WRAMC for 7 months on heavy chemo and blood and platelets. She was doing very well then went into the Univerisity of Washingtons cancer center in Seattle where she begun more chemo and then was to recieve a stem cell transplant.She died one day before she would have completed that chemo and got a infection and died very fast. This cancer she knows was caused from the KBR burnpits that she worked and lived by while serving. She knew how sick she was when she left. They moved her just barely in time. She would have died.The burnpits were what made her so ill. We miss her very much and I do hope and pray these pits die out before all our troops do due to the effects. Lindsay Weidman
Reply to comment
 
Lindsay Weidman on Saturday, January 22, 2011 9:49 PM
Danielle died March 20, 2009.


mark leathers on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:49 AM
i was deployed from ft riley in sep 2003-sep2004 to camp junction city iraq, i was a heavy equip operator in 1st eng 1st id. we were responsible for constructing and operating our burn pits with the dozers.after pushing the trash and ashes into piles and breathing in this heavy black smoke we would cough up black crap all the time and our skin would also be black from the ash. i was medically discharged in 2006 for neck and back problems from my service in iraq since then i have had respiratory failure in nov2010 i have been on oxygen since aug 2010, in sep 2010 i was diagnosed with throat cancer, i am the first person in my family as far back as i can remember with any type of cancer.
Reply to comment


Le Roy Torres on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:19 PM
I was cross-leveled to an Army Reserve unit as individual augmentee from November 2007 to November 2008. I was stationed at Camp Anaconda, Iraq for 12 months. I began to have sinus issues and flu-like symptoms within the first 30 days of my deployment. I went to the Troop Medical Clinic in Balad for treatment of my symptoms. I was placed on 48 hour quarters. I continued to have respiratory issues on and off with chronic sinus problems. I noticed when I showered and cleared my nasal passages, gray matter would be draining from my nose, sometimes darker at other times. I returned back home the first part of November 2008. I ended up in the ER several days after I was home and was diagnosed with URI and bronchitis. I was seen two other times within the same week in November. I continued to see medical doctors for the next 24 months. Medical personnel would mention pretty much the same thing regarding my symptoms. My symptoms include: shortess of breath upon exertion, chronic cough, fatigue, abdominal pain, gastric issues, rash in extremities, night sweats, chronic sinusitis, and gastric bleeding. I have been diagnosed with reactive airway disease, obstructive sleep apnea, irritable bowel syndrome, parasitic infections, lesions in spleen, ischemia, hypersensitivity pneumonia. I had a lung biopsy on November 2010 at Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee. Dr. Lambright conducted the biopsy. Dr. Miller is the pulmonary doctor, who thankfully gave us some relief in identifying my condition. I was diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis, hypersensitivity pneumonia, and fibrosis. I experienced a GI bleed upon being discharged from Vanderbilt on 18 November 2010, putting me back in the hospital. I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy; biopsies revealed I had ischemia episode with mild ulcerations in Gastric system. I continue to experience gastric issues and was recently receiving treatments for parasitic infections. A CT scan revelaed i had lesions in my spleen, with enlarged prostate. I was later taken to Baylor Hospital to see a GI doctor. One other endoscopy was conducted with biopsies. My labs indicated that I had chemical gastritis, having to do with exposure to chemicals. I just completed my 40th visit to see medical prprovides for my health condition, which has been an out of poctet expense to my private insurance and myself. My family and I continue the fight for my health and for the sake of our brother and sister Veterans who continue to fight for proper healthcare while at the same time honoring the fallen victims who were also exposed to the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. My prayers are with you as we strive to survive the effects of the exposure and advocate for other Veterans.
Reply to comment


Stacy Pennington on Thursday, February 24, 2011 8:11 PM
A short time ago my brother, SSG Steven Gregory Ochs, alive, vibrant, living life without regret, loving without expecting anything in return, accepted all without prejudice, judged no one and gave what little possessions he owned to anyone in need or just to make one smile. Steve is best described as a lover to his wife, dedicated father to Annelise his three year old daughter, loyal son, a friend you find once in a lifetime. Steve was born to be an American soldier to the inner core of his being. My brother, Steve, chose the military as his career serving our country for 14 years. He served 3 tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom totaling 40 months. This is the life he chose with pride and honor. He did his duty no matter the cost. We are currently at war although people tend to forget because the war is not being fought on our land. The world turns a blind eye and does not realize our soldier’s sacrifices. Steve, a brave soldier who dodged bullets, mortar attacks, road side explosions and suicide bombers. He saved many soldiers countless times while under heavy fire. Battling the enemy means far more than just firing a gun or throwing a grenade, it also entails performing what most would consider unthinkable tasks. Steve burned rotted dead bodies, gathered body parts of comrades, performed CPR and went as far as cleaning the brains off equipment that came from a fellow soldier who was sitting shot-gun in the Hummer they were driving when an IED exploded as they drove over it. The Hummer split into two. Steve’s side survived and the other side did not. Angels descended and gave the perished their own set of wings as they lay on the battlefield. The ultimate sacrifice for a soldier, for his country is death. We assume the horrific ways a soldier dies in a combat zone. As technology changes, as strategic battle strategies change, so does a way a soldier dies fighting for his country for our freedoms. Balad is the site of the infamous enormous burn pit that has been called by Darrin L. Curtis, Lt. Col., USAF and Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander as “the worst environmental site” he had ever visited. My brother, SSG Ochs, was stationed in Balad and war as strategic as it is followed him home. Death lay dormant in his blood and waited for him to return safely home and into the arms of his loved ones. Like every silent ticking time bomb, it eventually exploded. On September 28, 2007, just months after Steve’s return home from his third tour, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, also known as AML. He spent the next 10 months as a patient, more like a resident, at Duke University Hospital. Doctors at Duke said his aggressive form of AML was definitely chemically induced. Steve agreed and insisted it was due to the exposures he experienced while in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the doctor’s at Duke refused to go on record citing the reason that they could not prove it. Steve, like so many others, was diagnosed with AML during what I refer to as the “first wave” of victims. In the fall of 2007 there was no information regarding burn pits the troops were being exposed to in addition to the contaminated water. No websites, no research, no acknowledgement of the academic we were about to discover. The aggressive AML that Steve endured was similar to bullets ricocheting in the body causing torturous pain. The graphic images embedded in my mind are of Steve’s last screams for air as he was rushed into ICU. Steve waved goodbye to my husband and with a whisper said, “I love you sis.” Our Mom kissed his forehead and told him we would see him as soon as they made him comfortable. Steve mustered a grin, as always. Five minutes later our lives as we knew it would change forever. A nurse entered the ICU waiting room to inform us that Steve went into cardiac arrest and doctors were working on trying to revive him. My mom busted in the doors to ICU as the nurse tried to hold her back. My Mom turned to me, fell to her knees and said to me, “My son is dying.” Screams filled the air as we begged God to keep Steve alive. We know Steve heard us as tears were in his eyes. Doctors and nurses continued to pump on Steve’s chest for 45 minutes keeping him alive, but I knew immediately he was gone. The spirit that surrounded my dear sweet brother was gone. Steve was declared dead by an ICU doctor on July 12, 2008 at 4:41 EST. My Mom looked upon my brother’s face and wiped away the tears puddle in his eyes. I alone stayed with my brother for hours lying on his chest without the courage to let him go or say goodbye. It was Steve’s turn to receive his angel wings just as he witnessed others receiving theirs on the battlefield. During his deployments in Iraq Steve complained of ailments ranging from chronic colds, major fatigue, headaches, sinus problems and respiratory issues. If that was not enough he suffered hearing loss and contracted TB while in Afghanistan due to exposures to masses of dead bodies. My brother had a large strong stature, standing over six feet tall, weighing over 200 pounds, handsome, and was the perfect image of an Army strong soldier. Steve was brave and served his country courageously. He was committed to Americas efforts abroad and believed in he was making a difference, he loved his role, his men and he loved his Army. He was a soldier, hundred percent confident of he was and his mission. Grief, eternal sadness and depression have engulfed my entire family. We hurt and we miss him Steve’s wife is unstable. Annelise is left fatherless. My mom is emotionally unstable and my fat may sound her is constantly wondering. My youngest brother, Brian, left with regret and I lost. I lost my best friend. I lost the one who encouraged me to live my life without regrets and dare me to live life to the fullest. Crude as this may sound, as he would say, “F-it sis, just do it, just live. Stop being afraid and just do what makes you happy. What is the worst that could happen? Remember you are NOT in control.” Sadly, what Steve endured would repeat itself a thousand times over. Laura Bumpus, whose son suffered the exact same fate just two weeks after Steve died, and I spent countless hours researching, reaching out to other victims, consoling victims and their families, reaching out to organizations, legislators, doctors, reporters, military families past and present educating all who will listen. We have been successful in our endeavors in such a short period of time. We have passed three legislative bills, prompted several federal level investigations and started a class-action lawsuit. Military personnel are now being educated on the dangers of burn pits and contaminated water. Those that have fallen ill by law should receive medical care and treatments that are appropriate to their diseases. We have equipped legislators, doctors and other organizations with valuable information to enable them to make informed decisions. We still have a lot more educational outreach and legislation that must pass in order to make this wrong a right. My family proudly displays our Gold Star pin presented to each of us by Steve’s Commander at his funeral. We are full of pride to be a military family, honoring our fallen brother and standing by my brother who currently serves our country today. We know Steve was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save his men. He sacrificed himself and it is our duty to make sure Steve’s death was not in vain, but instead serve as a greater purpose. The purpose of his death was to expose a major injustice. Now it is up to us to make it right We will continue to live with the emotional battle scars caused by the terminal injuries our loved one suffered as a result of the exposures of the burn pits. I assure you it is a heavy cross to bear. Collectively we have the power to save our courageous heroes who serve our country and who protect me and who protect you.
Reply to comment
 
linda pitman on Thursday, May 26, 2011 3:42 PM
Stacy, I am so sorry for your loss!!! My husband came home from Iraq Set30,2007, was diagnosed with lung cancer Nov30,2007. He passed away Oct25,2008. I understand your loss and wish I could do something to take the pain away from you and your family. My husband was an only biological child his mother and father had so this has been especially hard for them. Bless you and your family I pray yu find some peace and comfort....Linda Pitman


Paul Richmond on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:28 AM
I was a firefighter that was stationed at Ali (Talil) Iraq from May thru September 2005. When I returned I started having migraine headaches that I did not have before. I originally filed a claim with VA. I thought it had something to do with either the burn pit that was downwind from our living area, or the fact that we lived on an old Iraqi ordinance build up area. I had also read that the US used uranium depleted rounds heavily during the first push into Iraq in 90's. My claim was denied in 2006. With all the new information I have, I am going to refile the claim.
Reply to comment
 
Joanne Ochs on Wednesday, May 04, 2011 2:48 PM
Please make sure you refile as it is very important for you and your family. May God be with you and yours...Sincerely, Joanne Ochs


Joanne Ochs on Wednesday, May 04, 2011 2:48 PM
Please make sure you refile as it is very important for you and your family. May God be with you and yours...Sincerely, Joanne Ochs


Mitch Gill on Thursday, June 02, 2011 3:18 PM
Refile and if denied, appeal it and the if denied, appeal to the next higher level. I dont think you will have problems this go round as the VA started seriously looking at the results of exposure to burn pits and yes I was at Tallil in 06-07 and was told about the depleted uranium there but NO ONE ever checked with geiger counters whiles I was there. Dont give up, fight for what they owe you! Good luck and God Bless.


Linda Pitman on Thursday, May 26, 2011 3:29 PM
As I sit here and read these stories all's I can do is cry, my heart breaks for each and everyone of you. I lost my husband to lung cancer a little less than 13 months after he came home from Iraq. He said the whole time, one day maybe 10-20 yrs from now they will find out my cancer is from the burn pits. It didn't take that long for people to become aware of the burn pits. I want to thank every soldier and their families for your time in service, without you all we wouldn't have the freedom we all enjoy today. And I am very embarrassed by the way some of our military have been treated and I'm sorry for that! Linda Pitman
Reply to comment


Linda Pitman on Thursday, May 26, 2011 3:30 PM
As I sit here and read these stories all's I can do is cry, my heart breaks for each and everyone of you. I lost my husband to lung cancer a little less than 13 months after he came home from Iraq. He said the whole time, one day maybe 10-20 yrs from now they will find out my cancer is from the burn pits. It didn't take that long for people to become aware of the burn pits. I want to thank every soldier and their families for your time in service, without you all we wouldn't have the freedom we all enjoy today. And I am very embarrassed by the way some of our military have been treated and I'm sorry for that! Linda Pitman
Reply to comment


Sandra Thornton Baty on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 6:24 PM
My name is MSgt Sandra Thornton, USAF retired. I was at Kirkuk, Iraq in 2004 and Baghram AB, Afgh in 2006. Both of which have burn pits. In Iraq, I was put on inhalers, came back and had to have nose surgery for large growths in my nose. In Afgh, I was placed on more inhalers. Came back, had a 2nd nose surgery to breathe and a 1/2 football tumor was taken out of my chest wall cavity. I continued to go to ERs in order to breathe or to get rid of a 2 mth old. In Aug 2010, my 02 level was 86%. In Sep 2011, it was 42%. My lung CT showed deep scars and the air flow decreased shows that my lungs are dying. I had a sleep study and I quit breathing now 10 x per hr. I start 02 soon. I have been dx with constrictive broncholitis. There is no cure, no real treatment and life expectancy is 5-10 yrs from this burn pit exposures. I was in Iraq 7 yrs ago. I am filing w/the VA now for disability because I had to quit college and I won't be able to work much longer. I am getting my Will ready. I read Aug 2011, DoD still does not believe us. My God! And the thing that makes me angry is that "other Americans (KBR civilian contractors)" did this to us by NOT following guidance/regulations. What a slap in all of our faces and to know Congress has been briefed on this for over 2 years and we stil have no cure, treatment and or disability. What a disgrace.
Reply to comment


Julie Hill on Saturday, October 22, 2011 3:34 AM
My Husband was a Sgt in the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion/Airborne Division, and was deployed to Afghanistan as an Active Reservest in August of 2002. I still remember the day we got the news that he would be leaving us for a whole years time. Not a good day. His deployment came very quickly, with only 1 months notice. I can remember going to his unit, packing them all up on the busses set to head to Ft. Bragg...then his calling me and telling me how he was in Germany waiting for a flight that would take him into Afghainstan. After that, it was about 2 weeks before I heard from him again. He was telling me how terribly cold it was there at night, and how bad the dust was and asked me to send him some masks and hankies. He was soon after sent to Khost, Afghanistan as the Medic attached to a select group of Men from the 82nd Airborne and another Special Ops Unit. They got to work right away at the Chapman Airbase building what would be their home for the next year. During his time in Country, he got sick with respiratory infections several times throughout his deployment. He would complain of the dirt filth conditions that they were forced to live in. How they would have to poop in holes..that a "man" was contracted to come and burn after the holes had filled. He would tell me all about how they had to burn pretty much everything that was trash so that there wouldnt be any clutter. He would complain about how the "locals" would just squat on the side of the road and do their business...then wipe with their hands, (and not wash them after)..yuk. Of course, if they would squat in the dirt, the dirt would get blown around, and they would all inhale that. He spent many days and nights socializing with the locals to "win hearts and minds"...drinking their drinks...eating their food...beacause otherwise you were being disrespectful. Just terrible to think that there may have been feeces on the hands of those you were sharing meals with. Meals that were scooped out eaten with hands, not forks. Ryan came home from OEF in Sept 2003.... Ryan has been a different person ever since his deployment. He gets angry very easily...which is very odd for him because he was never that guy and he also has severe sleep apnea now. When I notieced the difference in him, and feared for his health and safety, I suggested that he leave the Army. In June of 2004 he joined the USCG, Active Duty. He served as a Surfman, BM2, until Feb 2008.. In Feb 2008, we decided that the Military as an Active Status was not good for our Family, so we came back home to Maryland where he is now a Police Officer in the Baltimore City Police Dept. So, Im sure you are wondering why I am writing... This is the big whaazoooo.... In Sept, 2010, Ryan started to complain of pain in his leg after running long distances. Of course, must be shin splints...as he was easily running 4-5 miles each day. Bought new shoes...cut back on running...leg wraps..etc... In Nov, after much care and rest on the leg, with no improvement...we decided to get an MRI to see if there was a muscle tear. To our suprise..a large Mass had grown between his Tib/Fib. In Dec, 2010...Ryan was Diagnosed with Stage 4, Anaplastic Large T Cell Lymphoma. GASP....Blood Cancer...?? What?? No family history of that! No...Nothing. Well, yeah...we have noticed some weight gain..and weight loss... And yes...he has had a few fevers over the past couple of years for simple colds..... And yes.... lately he does get tired sometimes..but, he works really hard and often. And yes...he has gotten night sweats recently...but, thats because I make him sleep with blankets on... Right??? Well, yes, he did serve time overseas...and did get many vaccines...Why do you ask?? He is only 30 years old...he should not be suffering so much right now. He is getting really sick, really fast. Please..not Cancer! What a big slap in the face of all of us. He began a very harsh treatment with CHOP Chemotherapy. A 24 hour a day for 6 straght days...every 21 day treatment. He Lost all of his hair...Eyebrows...eyelashes... and he swelled up due to the steriods in the chemo. Not at all my Husband... the Gym rat...that ran every day...Lifted weights every other day..the strong man with the muscles that I once loved to rub and admire as his wife...were sucked right out of him...as was his energy..and his good vibe. What a shame. In May, 2011, Ryan was givin happy news... Remission. Since then, constant blood checks...PET Scans.. Dr. Visits... And he has been clean and healthy...until now. 2 weeks ago, he noticed a spot on his leg..the same leg as before. It is different than before. No pain, but insted, a deep deep itch that scratching just cant reach. Of course, had to look through our paperwork, and it seems that this has a very good chance of being a recurance of his Lymphoma, but this time, it is signs of Cutaneous Lymphoma which is how his type of Lymphoma typically presents after already having received Chemo. Ryan has an appt on Tuesday morning with the Oncologist, and hopefully, this is just a scare. None the less, Anaplastic Lymphoma has a 65-85% of recurring within 2 years after treatment and remission. If this is again that dreaded CA, I dont know what we will do. We cant afford for him to be out of work again, as he used all of his Sick and VaCa last go round. That means, we cant pay the bills..which is going to only make his spirits worse..if he knows that he cant do anything to help it. He is a go getter. This guy, during his last treatment, worked the entire time. He would go in the Hospital for his week, be home for 2 days sick as a dog, then muscle his way into work. He never let it get him down. He may not have a choice if he has to go through Chemo again. It weighs on your body and organs more than any big strong man can fight. Its just terrible and it is very very sad. It is even more sad that he was probably introduced to some funky bug over there in Afghanistan..while fighting for what he thought was right. He joined the Military to be a Soldier. To fight for our freedom, only to now be held captive by a deadly illness that has no cure. Did he touch something that he may have injested, or could he have inhaled some funky gross stuff that got lodged in his lungs, and eventually in his blood stream to make him now have this terrible Blood Cancer? Please...if anyone knows anything...can make any suggestions for us to be able to get help. How to report this. Anything at all. Please let me know! I feel for each and every one of the Soldiers, Marines, Airman,Seaman, etc..that have had to suffer due to their wanting to serve this Country. There is no draft. They joined because they wanted to. There has to be something that can be done. Respectfully... Julie & Ryan Hill
Reply to comment


Leeanna Diane Henson on Sunday, November 13, 2011 12:40 AM
My comment is this. WHile I was overseas in 2005-2006 I had a ton of experience with burn pits. At first I was on the ground breathing it in and not even thinking about the wide range of dangerous toxins, and chemicals we all were breathing in. I was water purification so I was someonen who would take the clean water and transport it to the different areas of the camps near my main base. Now a couple of months later I was moved to force protection which is where I was to secure the gates and work up in the towers to make sure no enemy mortars or rockets came into the camp. WHile standing that high in the towers it was like a 24/7 nasty polluted chemically foul air that I was breathing in. ANd this time I was up in the air breathing it in worrying about any enemy snipers, or shooters out there when one thing we all should have been worried about was the very thing that kept the camps trash down to a minimum. I was shot at, near mortars and rockets, and a wide range of other exposures overseas. And yet for me I still have not even once recieved my cab or the other things I should have been put in for. BUt what can you do? Now that I am back home away from the burning pits of "Hell" I am fighting once again for my medical needs and for them to say yes this is what happened to you and this is why you are sick and need to be given medications for the pain, asthma, nightmares, year round allergies, constant pain, the dizzyness, the tbi, the short term memory loss, and a wide range of other issues, medical conditions and psychological issues. I am blessed to still be here with my family, friends and loved ons and pray one day my voice will be heard and I can get the help and disability I need to live a half-way normal life. I am glad this site has been created it has shown me so much and now I know it is not just my imagination like they try to say or it is psycological not physical. Thank you for everyone else on here who has done their time oversease and god bless you all during this difficult time of life. But hey we are all still here to live and fight for the ones who have passed on. :-)
Reply to comment
 
leeanna on Sunday, April 29, 2012 12:02 AM
Along with the short term memory lossni dontnremember my childhood at all.and inamnalways innpain. I keep.asking to be tested fornfibromyalgia but the only thing they do fornmost of my medical conditions with tbi.


Malinda L on Monday, November 28, 2011 9:04 PM
It is very heart breaking to read everyone's comment. My heart truly goes out to all the families and service members. My husband was with the 551 MP CO out of Ft. Campbell, they were deployed to Djibouti, Africa in 2002 and then entered Iraq in 2003. He was ill a couple of times while there from the constant burning pits in Africa and Iraq. He has had multiple illness since his discharge in 2004. Over the years he suffered from virus infections, sinus infections, sleep apnea, allergies and constantly given antibiotics. In late May 2011 his symptoms worsensed with night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of taste buds, extreme leg pain and body bruises. The family care doctors continued to push antibiotics and once blamed an allergic to antibotics as the cause of his symptoms. We are grateful that the doctors at Vanderbilt investigated his conditions and discovered he had ALL Leukemia. The first thing the doctors asked was has he been exposed to anything and what countries he visited and at that time he explained his exposure to the constant burning of trash in Africa and Iraq. We had no clue of the signs and symptoms of Leukemia so now I tell everyone who is sick constant viruses or have body pain to have a CBC done. Our biggest obstacle now is the denial by VA for his claim and trying to show service connection.
Reply to comment


Brad Stitzell on Monday, December 19, 2011 4:11 AM
I deployed to Balad in 2007 and 2008. I lived in H-6 and worked outside in the AF munitions storage area. Both of these areas are right in the path of the burn pit smoke. I had the usual Balad crud while there, muscle cramps, the runs, coughing up junk, and flu like symptoms. At the time, you just figured that it was due to the dust, food, stress, et cetera. 2 months after returning from my last deployment, I was experiencing abdominal pain, bloating, and severe diahrea. It progresses to the point that was passing tissue and blood. I was dagnosed with ulcerative colitus. Within a year, I had noticed that I had a deminished sex drive, my energy levels were down, my weight increased, and I had an overal loss of strength and endurence. I went to a Dr. and it was found that my testosterone level was in the low 100's. I was refered to an endocronologist. There it was found that I had a pituitary tumor. This had caused me to stop producing testosterone. I now take meds for the UC, meds for the tumor, and take testosterone injections every three weeks. I was fine until I went to Balad. I'm totally convinced that my conditions were caused by the burn pit. I was discharged from the Air Guard due to not being able to meet deployment requirments due to my medical conditions. I'm also being treated for anxiety, depression, and PTSD from the VA. I have filed for comp and pen with the VA and am awaiting the results.
Reply to comment


Sandra Edmonds on Sunday, January 29, 2012 10:45 PM
First of all, I am so very sorry for all that I have read..it is so disheartening to know that our heroes are treated this way. I have a son who was stationed at Camp Taji Iraq in 2008. He is now having terrible recurrent eye infections that were first diagnosed as herpetic lesions, but now they say it is not herpes, but no one seems to know what the problem is. Has anyone heard of anything like this happening to any other soldiers?
Reply to comment


Colin Brelsford on Saturday, February 04, 2012 9:21 PM
I am a retired NCO that had the honor to serve with another retired NCO in the 101st ABN. We were in 8th Bn 101st (AVIM) I was a chinook TI and he was a 58 Armerment TI. He was sent to a location where he ingested sulpher smoke from a fire. I served with him at Campbell and combat zones. I have never served with a finer soldier. He has been getting the runaround fron the VA since our return and his retirement. He only draws 30% from the VA and has had to undergo lung biopsys. He complains about shortage of breath and being unable to sleep during the night. For the record all wounds arent from enemy fire, However for him to have to undergo a biopsy and the admission he is disabled speaks volumes for the follow up health care our vets recieve (and are entitled to) Thank God for men like Karl and the love they have for this country. Thanks KS your friend forever CB.
Reply to comment


MIchael Nares on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 7:20 AM
To all the service members who endured the pits; bless you all and to all the families bless you forever. I was stationed 15 months straight, I know your struggle. Peace love and courage to all the service members and to their families.
Reply to comment


Donna Washington on Saturday, February 18, 2012 9:38 AM
Hello everyone. I served in the Army Reserve for 8 years and was deployed to the Gulf War back in 1990-1991. After returning I experienced stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, vomitting and severe gas. The symptoms were magnified when I ate beef and dairy. So I have cut beef and dairy out of my diets. But for the most part, whatever I intake, it causes severe gas and I may or may not have diarrhea and constipation. I flip flop between diarrhea and constipation on a weekly basis. I filed a VA claim and was approved 10% SCD. I was told by the doctor at the VA clinic that Gulf War soldiers were exposed to chemicals because of the burning of the oil refineries, burning the porta potties with diesel oil (burning human feces) and because of taking that little white pill from our NBC pack. I've had a colonoscopy and upper GI to reveal that my stomach lining was irritated, I have diverticulitis and hemmoroids. I'm always sick, don't like to travel because I don't when I'm gonna get sick. I don't eat beef and dairy anymore, at all. So glad to find out about this sight. I plan on going back to the VA to get my SCD increased. Any advise would be greatly appreciated as well as info on other meds (whether it be natural remedies).
Reply to comment


william gleason on Sunday, March 25, 2012 10:51 AM
Reply to comment


Nature's Friend on Monday, March 26, 2012 12:10 PM
Seeing that Burn Pit Stories received such a great response gives hope that something will be done about it!
Reply to comment


Jesus M. Lorenzana, SSGT, USAF on Saturday, August 04, 2012 12:44 AM
I was deployed at Balad AB, Iraq twice during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served under the 332th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron (ELRS) on Jan-Apr 2005 and Sept-Jan 2006-2007. My workplace was the TMO tent located next to the Aerial Port building. Which was the closest to the burn pit and my accomodations were located at the H-6 dorm area in the C section. Ther were days when the wind direction shifts and smoke from the pit blankets the entire base area for days. I had to live with that stench during my two deployments. I remember one day during my second deployment, a co-worker told me he saw several aircraft pallets filled with used tires were being airlifted from Kirkuk and Tallil just to be tossed into the pit. Whenever I catch the smell of burning garbage, it brings back those days I had to breathe that smoke and I had to tell to people and family; "That's exactly what Iraq really smells". I was proud on my involvement of the war, even during the time that my home unit never showed patriotism. But allowing that pit too close to the area was extremely negligent. Watching the plum of black smoke rising and then fall into a white fog over the entire base forcing everyone to breath it is something that disgusts me just for remembering. Right now I became more sensitive to allergies and I have to take several over the counter medicines in order to inhibit my allergies every day of my life. Other than that I have no other conditions from the pit but I heard I have to be more attentive with my heart more than ever that I have to take several dietary supplements keep healthy in order to prevent any illness and make sure I don't get any problems during my workouts and other physical activities. But if you ask me if I would go back to Balad or other bases on the AOR, I go anyway to serve.
Reply to comment


D. Anderson on Monday, September 17, 2012 12:41 AM
I cannot believe all the stories I have seen on here. I found out about this website not to long ago. I was deployed to Balad, Iraq (LSA Anaconda) from Aug 2006 to AUG 2007. I was not Infantry or any other combat arms. I do not suffer from PTSD, most of the "combat" I have seen was from behind the wire. Yes I did my fair share of travelling while I was there. About 20 or so convoys, which is nothing by most peoples standards; maybe 10 or so helo trips to various places. When I got their our unit didnt have a specific mission. first off you dont know how it feels to be a soldier without a mission, I felt like a waste. Everything the grunts say is true...I am a waste of money. Anyways that is a different story... My company had the duty of watching tower Bravo 07 on Balad's outer perimeter. The tower was one of two towers located along the burnpit. On a bad day you could smell the burnpit from my hooch, maybe a half mile to a mile away, I honestly dont remember the distance. The bad days though were really bad when you actually had to be in B07. I probably had guard duty about 3 months out of the 12 months I was there. I can remember days though where the smoke was so thick it was hard to breath. The smell was never good. I remember going up there with bandanas to cover my face no matter how hot it was. Even with stuff over my mouth you could still smell and taste the nasty air. Now it has been 6 years since those days. I dont have cancer (that I know of), I am not sick (that I know of) and I dont think anyone else that I was with has had any issues. I guess my concern is that on a regular basis I am an active person. Sometimes when I go out and run, which is my favorite past time, I can't stop coughing up mucus. Even worse, on days I exercise more, I spend the whole day spitting up mucus. I certainly hate having that happen, and I know for sure my wife feels the same way. I am not posting on here for benefits or attention. I am however trying to figure out why I might be having this asthma like symptoms. Unfortunatly I do not have health insurance, which is a little embarassing. I would be willing to participate in any on going/long term study. Please let me know if there is anythhing i co do it Somedays are u
Reply to comment

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Email Address: (Required)
Website:
Comment:
Make your text bigger, bold, italic and more with HTML tags. We'll show you how.
Post Comment
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Recent Posts

VA LETTERS EVERY OEF OIF VETERAN NEEDS TO KNOW
toxic wounds of war donation campaign
2nd Annual International Lung Symposium
Burn Pit Registry
Burn Pit National Registry Bill

Most Popular Posts

Burn Pit Stories
Burn Pit Registry
Burn Pit National Registry Bill
VA LETTERS EVERY OEF OIF VETERAN NEEDS TO KNOW
toxic wounds of war donation campaign

Categories

Burn Pit News
Burn Pit Personal Stories
fundraising
powered by

Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint