Sending Office: Honorable Joaquin Castro
Sent By:
Benton.Gammons@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Support the Creation of a Burn Pit Exposure Medical Research Program

** This is a programmatic request for FY 2020 Defense Appropriations

DEADLINE: NOON, Thursday, March 28th 

 

“The use of open air burn pits in combat zones has caused invisible, but grave health complications for many service members, past and present. Particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and dioxins
–– the destructive compound found in Agent Orange –– and other harmful materials are all present in burn pits, creating clouds of hazardous chemical compounds that are unavoidable to those in close proximity…More independent research is necessary.”

~Veterans of Foreign Wars Testimony, June 7, 2018~

 

Dear Colleague,

We ask you to join us in asking for the creation of a stand-alone Burn Pit Exposure Medical Research Program within the CDMRP.

The CDMRP has the ability to fund any qualified research team, not just those employed by the funding agency. By contrast, VA’s medical research program is solely intramural and open only to VA-employed researchers. Second, CDMRP includes the active participation
of consumer reviewers at all levels of patients (or their caregivers) who are actually affected by the disease. The VA offers no opportunity for similar involvement in research decision-making by the patients who are ultimately affected by such decisions.
Finally, CDMRP has already shown its effectiveness with regards to other complex post-deployment, toxic exposure health conditions including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Gulf War Illness (GWI), through its emphasis on collaboration, treatment focus, and
effective two-tiered peer review.” It is critical to the program’s success and accountability that it be a stand-alone program within the CDMRP and not be combined as a topic area within broader, less-targeted research programs.

We recommend a Burn Pit Exposure Medical Research Program develop a collaborative, inter-institutional, interdisciplinary, GWIRP-like research consortium while also funding other relevant research focused on achieving
the improved health and lives of veterans affected by burn pit exposures, including the following goals, which may also help current and future military servicemembers similarly exposed:

               •         Accelerating the development of treatments and their clinical translation
for affected veterans (e.g., lung, brain, injury, symptoms, diseases,    prevalent comorbidities, etc.);

•         Improving definition, diagnosis, and scientific understanding of the pathobiology and symptoms resulting from these exposures, including identifying biomarkers of exposure, exposure effect, and illness;

•         Assessing comorbidities, including the incidence, prevalence, early detection and diagnosis, treatments for, or any unique factors related to exposed veterans’ respiratory conditions (e.g. constrictive
bronchiolitis, pulmonary fibrosis, etc.), cancers (e.g., lung, etc.), or other diseases.

We hope that you will join us in this request to provide the necessary resources in the FY20 DoD appropriations bill to establish the stand-alone Burn Pit Exposure Medical Research Program within the CDMRP. Our goal is not research for research’s sake, but
the development of knowledge to guide recovery for veterans still suffering following their exposure to these airborne hazards. 

To join the letter, please contact Benton Gammons at benton.gammons@mail.house.gov.
Deadline to sign onto the letter is NOON, Thursday, March 28th.

Sincerely,

Joaquin Castro         

Member of Congress

 

Peter T. King

Member of Congress

 

Raul Ruiz, M.D.

Member of Congress

 

———————–

 

Dear Chairman Visclosky and Ranking Member Calvert: 

We thank you for your support for the many exceptional medical research programs within the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), including  medical research specific to open-air burn pit exposure under the
Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP). As the subcommittee develops an appropriations bill for FY 2020,
we respectfully request the creation of a Burn Pit Exposure Medical Research Program similar to the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP).

The House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee received testimony last year recommending the creation of peer-reviewed medical research program dedicated to burn pit exposure modeled after the successful GWIRP.   Written testimony submitted by the VFW stated:
“The use of open air burn pits in combat zones has caused invisible, but grave health complications for many service members, past and present. Particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and dioxins –– the destructive
compound found in Agent Orange –– and other harmful materials are all present in burn pits, creating clouds of hazardous chemical compounds that are unavoidable to those in close proximity…More independent research is necessary. That is why the VFW supports
establishing a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) specifically for burn pits. The CDMRP has shown progress in identifying causes, effective treatments, and biomarkers for Gulf War Illness, and the VFW is confident a similar program for
burn pits will help exposed veterans” 

Written testimony from Burn Pits 360 stated: “CDMRP is important for this treatment-focused research for several reasons. First, CDMRP has the ability to fund any qualified research team, not just those employed by the funding agency. By contrast, VA’s medical
research program is solely intramural and open only to VA-employed researchers. Much of the valuable medical research related to burn pits exposure has been led by researchers at independent, academic medical centers including Vanderbilt University, Stony
Brook University, the Deployment-Related Lung Disease Center at National Jewish Health, and others. Second, CDMRP includes the active participation of consumer reviewers at all levels of patients (or their caregivers) who are actually affected by the disease.
This is of critical importance. VA offers no opportunity for similar involvement in research decision-making by the patients who are ultimately affected by such decisions. Finally, CDMRP has already shown its effectiveness with regards to other complex post-deployment,
toxic exposure health conditions including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Gulf War Illness (GWI), including through its emphasis on collaboration, treatment focus, and effective two-tiered peer review.”

We recommend a Burn Pit Exposure Medical Research Program develop a collaborative, inter-institutional, interdisciplinary, GWIRP-like research consortium while also funding other relevant research focused on achieving
the improved health and lives of veterans affected by burn pit exposures, including the following goals, which may also help current and future military servicemembers similarly exposed:

               •         Accelerating the development of treatments and their clinical translation
for affected veterans (e.g., lung, brain, injury, symptoms, diseases,                           prevalent comorbidities, etc.);

•         Improving definition, diagnosis, and scientific understanding of the pathobiology and symptoms resulting from these exposures, including identifying biomarkers of exposure, exposure effect, and illness;

•         Assessing comorbidities, including the incidence, prevalence, early detection and diagnosis, treatments for, or any unique factors related to exposed veterans’ respiratory conditions (e.g. constrictive
bronchiolitis, pulmonary fibrosis, etc.), cancers (e.g., lung, etc.), or other diseases.

We respectfully request that you provide the necessary resources in the FY20 DoD appropriations bill to establish this program. Furthermore, it is critical to the program’s success and accountability that it be a stand-alone program within the CDMRP and
not be combined as a topic area within broader, less-targeted research programs. Our goal is not research for research’s sake, but the development of knowledge to guide recovery for veterans still suffering following their exposure to these airborne hazards. 

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,

Members of Congress

 

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Appropriations, Veterans

Related Deadline Information

Deadline Title: on-line appropriations submissions
Deadline Start: 3/21/2019 11:00:00 AM
Deadline End: 3/28/2019 12:00:00 PM

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