Jon Stewart has slammed Americans for posting Memorial Day stories on social media while failing to show up to support sick and dying veterans from toxic exposure to burning fireplaces.
“Where are the American people?” he ordered.
The television host and veteran advocate took the stage at the Rolling to Remember event in Washington DC on Saturday afternoon, where veterans, their families and advocates called on Congress to pass the Honoring our PACT Act.
Mr Stewart urged Americans to pressure their senators to pass the comprehensive fireplaces bill as he spoke at the symbolic demonstrations in support of American veterans over the weekend of Memorial Day.
“It’s hard to be here today and not be frustrated again as I look out into the crowd and see the same thing I always see – veterans and their families and caregivers,” he said. -he declares.
“But where are the American people? It’s Memorial Day weekend.
He pointed to Memorial Day tweets and restaurant cuts across the country, at a time when veterans are battling to access the health care and disability benefits they need after serving their country in the stranger.
“Man, you are going to read the tweets this weekend. You’re going to look at Facebook pages and you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, does America love me. Boy, they love us.
“You’re gonna go to Applebee’s, they’re gonna give you the ribs – 20% off, not even 10% because of how much they support you and yet we come here today looking for the support of the American people and that is there behind me he said.
“These are veterans organizations, these are veterans, these are their families.
“This country can’t be so broken!”
In less than two weeks, the Senate is expected to vote on the Honoring our PACT Act – recently renamed the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act in honor of the late Sgt First Class Heath Robinson, who died at age 39 of a rare cancer caused by a burn. pits.
If the landmark bill passes, 23 cancers, respiratory illnesses and other conditions will likely be linked to a veteran’s exposure to combustion fireplaces while deployed overseas.
Mr Stewart said only six additional senators were needed to pass the bill.
Talk to The Independent at the Washington DC rally on Saturday, he said he was confident lawmakers “would do the right thing.”
“There’s a whole group right now trying to be political and we’ve had our time to be very confrontational and get to this point,” he said.
“But right now it’s bipartisan and we’re going to believe that when it all ends they’ll do the right thing as Americans.”
Mr Stewart said all senators who voted to approve a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine should vote to approve a program for veterans serving the United States .
“Any senator who voted to send $40 billion to Ukraine can stand up and do the right thing for the veterans of this country,” he said.
The PACT Act is expected to cost around $1 billion in the coming years.
Only 11 senators – all Republicans – opposed sending 40 billion dollars to Ukraine.
John Feal, 9/11 responder, veteran attorney and founder of the FealGood Foundation, said The Independent that he questions the patriotism and humanity of any lawmaker who does not support the bill which has the support of 65 major veterans organizations.
“There are 46 Republican senators who should be on this bill simply because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
“We’re not just trying to get the bill passed. We also try to challenge their humanity and question their patriotism.
“And we want to make sure they’re doing the right thing.
“So whether we get to 60, 68 or 74, those who don’t get on board, America will be their judge.”
Mr. Feal was confident that the bill would not only get the 60 votes needed to pass, but at least 67 senators voting yes.
“There are good people in the Senate who are going to do the right thing,” he said, adding that when lawmakers return from recess next week “we will be everywhere with them” to make sure that the bill is adopted.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill in the first week of June.
In April, the full burn pit bill passed the House, with all Democrats and 34 Republicans voting to pass it.
Earlier this month, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee announced that Democrats and Republicans had finally reached bipartisan agreement on the bill after months of negotiations.
A key difference between the House version and the agreement reached in the Senate is that there would be a phase-in period for suspected illnesses linked to toxic exposure.
If the bill passes the Senate, it should be enacted as soon as July.
President Joe Biden, who believes his son Beau Biden could have died from burns while deployed to Iraq, said he would sign the bill as soon as it hits his desk.
He urged senators to pass legislation and pledged to better support veterans in his State of the Union address earlier this year after the veterans community spent years fighting for that the US government take the issue of fireplaces seriously.
During America’s wars after 9/11, huge open pits were used to burn mountains of trash, including food packaging, human waste and military equipment on US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thousands of US service members have returned home from deployment and developed health problems including rare cancers, lung ailments, respiratory illnesses and toxic brain damage from inhaling toxic fumes from the pits.
A staggering 3.5 million service members and veterans are estimated to have been exposed to flames and airborne toxins while serving in the U.S. overseas , according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But, right now, the burden of proof is on veterans to prove that their condition is directly caused by this toxic exposure.
As a result, only about one in five disability benefit claims where burning fireplaces are cited are approved by the VA.
Mr Stewart described how American servicemen and women who returned from America’s wars after 9/11, sick and dying from toxic exposure, were then ‘judged’ by the government who sent them there to prove that their conditions were directly caused by their service. country.
“This is perhaps one of the most hanging fruits of the American legislative agenda,” he said.
“Those who took up arms to defend this country and its constitution suffered great harm in that defense and when they returned home we brought them to justice.”
He described the denial from the US government that veterans have long faced after falling ill from toxic exposure.
“’Do you have cancer? Prove it was us,” he said
“‘I slept next to a burning field of shit and jet fuel.’
‘Yeah, I don’t know, but you also smoke Camel Lights, so how do we know it was us?’
He added: “You shouldn’t have to prove it. You shouldn’t have to be charged in a court case about your own health.