Episode 1 The

Burn pits were standard military practice during the wars we waged in the Middle East and now tens of thousands of our veterans say they’re suffering from respiratory diseases, cancers, and other illnesses caused by exposure to the toxic black smoke they create. That’s awful enough, but the Department of Veterans Affairs also routinely refuses to acknowledge that these illnesses are connected to veterans’ service and denies them benefits.

Scroll down to explore why that’s happening and how we can change it.

The problem with burn pits

This episode takes a deep dive into the horrifying realities of burn pits — giant holes that get filled with all kinds of trash, from plastic bags to entire trucks to human body parts and then gets lit on fire with jet fuel. The U.S. military routinely used burn pits to dispose of trash during our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among others. In the process, some 3.5 million soldiers were potentially exposed to the carcinogen-laden smoke released by these massive burning piles. Now many of those soldiers have developed rare respiratory problems and cancers that they believe were caused by exposure to burn pits. There is ample science that shows the chemicals released by burn pits are linked to these diseases, but the Department of Veterans Affairs claims there isn't yet enough science to prove the service connection. This allows the VA to deny benefit claims for these vets and to deprive them of the care they desperately need. To put it nicely, it’s a total fucking mess.