OJEM  Vol.7 No.2 , June 2019
Critical Analysis of the Healthcare Response to Burn-Pit-Related Illnesses for Post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
Abstract: A serious concern among post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (IAV) are health conditions from military and environmental exposure while serving. Many veterans are becoming suddenly ill and experiencing symptoms that have been associated with exposure to burning trash or “burn pits” set up to destroy waste produced by the military. IAVs are exhibiting respiratory conditions and other numerous health issues from exposure to burn pits during deployments. From the US military operations to the Middle East, 70% of the military personnel reported respiratory illnesses, with 17% experiencing symptoms serious enough to require medical care. Despite growing concerns, little research has been conducted on the health conditions of returning veterans. Many veterans have difficulty gaining appropriate access to care, unable to travel long distances to Veterans health facility, or have to deal with long wait times to see a provider. As a result, many veterans utilize civilian emergency rooms and healthcare facilities. Most healthcare facilities are not familiar with military-related health conditions. To address and prevent delays in care, it is helpful to have a veteran-specific screener questionnaire at the point of healthcare access. Getting a better understanding of the background and history of veterans can aid in accurately triaging this community and lead to better health care outcomes. Collecting and maintaining data regarding health issues that can arise from burn pit exposures can help direct the care of this specific community of veterans. In seeking to improve the understanding of IAV health issues from exposure to burn pits, the aim of this article is to help educate and raise awareness, and assist health care professionals to better triage and direct the care or resources necessary to help this underserved and at-risk community of our veterans.
Cite this paper: Lim, P. and Tayyeb, A. (2019) Critical Analysis of the Healthcare Response to Burn-Pit-Related Illnesses for Post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Open Journal of Emergency Medicine, 7, 17-27. doi: 10.4236/ojem.2019.72003.

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