VA Study: Toxic Exposure Causing Breast Cancer at Alarming Rates

VA Study: Toxic Exposure Causing Breast Cancer at Alarming Rates

Female military veterans have breast cancer rates up to 40% higher than non-veterans, mostly because of toxic exposure, a new study claims.

Many of these female veterans had no genetic markers and no symptoms. They had something else in common — proximity to burn pits. One recalled that the dogs she cared for began dying. “The first tour, it was no big deal—we dealt with paw issues,” she says. “By the second tour, we kept losing dogs to cancer—three-year-olds. I remember the kennel master saying, ‘How long do you think before this will start on us?’”

Frequently, doctors do not order mammograms before age 45. That screening age is too old for military veterans, some claim. Even more troubling, the breast cancer mortality rate is much higher among younger women than older women.

Burn Pits

The Middle East has a long history of lengthy conflicts. The Israelis have been at war with the Palestinians since David faced off against Goliath. More recently, Arab tribes unsuccessfully resisted the Ottoman Turks for decades, until Lawrence of Arabia built a solid coalition during World War I. Even more recently, Iran and Iraq traded blows for almost a decade during an indecisive war.

Yet for some reason, American commanders predicted that the invasions of Afghanistan in 2011 and Iraq in 2003 would be quick campaigns, like the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Incidentally, not many people know about the connection between the 1980s Iran-Iraq War and the subsequent Persian Gulf War. In the early 1980s, Iraq had the upper hand in this conflict. As a result, President Ronald Reagan, who was always looking for a way to stick it to Iran (at least at this point in his administration), sent special envoy Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad to sell weapons to Saddam Hussein. 

Rumsfeld was evidently a good salesman. Hussein agreed to spend billions of dollars he didn’t have on American weapons. So, he did what many consumers do. He borrowed the money, primarily from Kuwait. When the war ended, the Kuwaitis demanded payment. After Hussein steadily refused to pay and the Kuwaitis steadily escalated their threats, Hussein decided to invade the country.  

After some high-profile early victories in Iraq, such as the toppling of Hussein’s statue in Baghdad (a scene eerily similar to the celebrations on Coruscant), it looked like the planners might be right. But the conflict quickly became an insurgency. Logistical concerns, like waste disposal, moved from a minor irritation to a major issue.

Fortunately, the DoD had an answer. Commanders authorized field units to use burn pits. These open-air waste disposal pits are excellent solutions for campers in the wild or armies on the move. But for ever-growing armies that stay in one place, not so much. As the trash volume increased, so did the size of the burn pits, and the amount of toxic smoke they produced.

Beau Biden, the President’s son, was a victim of this toxic smoke, according to his father. Beau was a JAG officer at Joint Base Balad (a/k/a Camp Anaconda) in Iraq. Shortly after he rotated back to the world, doctors said he had brain cancer. “Because of exposure to burn pits — in my view, I can’t prove it yet — he came back with stage 4 glioblastoma,” his father said during a 2019 speech.

Female Veteran Health Issues

Since we included the Return of the Jedi clip above, you may (or may not) be wondering why there were no female star pilots in the final assault on the new and improved Death Star. At the time (1983), Star Wars creator George Lucas felt that audiences would react negatively if women were in harm’s way during aerial combat.

This attitude has changed significantly since then, but there has not been a 180. Many people, even the veterans themselves, are not comfortable with the idea of women sustaining combat wounds. Yet women face the exact same combat conditions as men. In terms of health issues, female veterans have a disproportionate amount of:

  • Cardiovascular Conditions: Many veterans struggle with illnesses like obesity and hypertension. Women are especially susceptible to these conditions. For the most part, military life is very sedentary and regimented. There is little time or opportunity for physical activity. Furthermore, MREs are not very healthy.
  • Mental Health: Female veterans struggle with depression at an alarming rate. Most people’s lives, and most women’s lives, center around home and family. When female veterans volunteered to serve their countries, they didn’t count on a long-term deployment on the other side of the world.
  • Painful Conditions: Repetitive stress disorders, like back and knee pain, are very common among female veterans. In terms of treatment, these victims often face an uncomfortable choice between possible addiction to powerful painkillers or risky and invasive surgery.

Other common issues include DRLD (Deployment Related Lung Disease), a breathing condition connected to burn pit exposure, vision problems, and breast cancer as mentioned above.

Injury Compensation Available

Frequently, these conditions are disabling, at least to an extent. Cardiovascular conditions, eye problems, toxic exposure illnesses, and other such issues often impact a contractor’s future ability to work and earn money.

Economically, there are two basic categories of Defense Base Act disabling injuries. Partially-disabled victims can usually keep working, but they must permanently reduce their hours or make other accommodations. Therefore, the DBA usually replaces a portion of these future lost wages. Totally disabled victims usually receive larger sums. These individuals cannot work again, based on their medical conditions as well as their educational and vocational backgrounds. A severed hand is only totally or partially disabling for some people in some situations.

If the disability is only temporary, most victims receive two-thirds of their Average Weekly Wage until they can return to work full time. The AWW is not just prior income. The AWW also accounts for future income losses, such as missed performance bonuses and overtime opportunities.

Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, PA for more information about DBA procedure.