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Death Of Air National Guard Veteran Raises Awareness For National Registry For Veterans Exposed To Open Burn Pits

March 03, 2017

The death of Air National Guard veteran and loving Mother, Amie Muller, has prompted the VA to create a national registry for veterans concerned about long-term health risks from exposure to open burn pits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has claimed that there is currently no evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits. Muller’s family is one of many families that believe there could be a connection and are asking the VA to launch further investigations and reconsider their stance.

Many veterans deployed to the Middle East have been exposed to toxic burn pits where the open combustion of trash leads to chemicals, paint, aluminum cans, munitions, petroleum, among other things, constantly being burned. It is a common method used to dispose of trash at military sites in that region.

“Environmental, that’s the biggest cause of cancer, so there’s no question that a 36 year old with pancreatic cancer, with no history of pancreatic cancer in her family, that had to be related,” said Brian Muller, Amie’s husband.

Brian is referring to the untimely death of his wife. Amie passed away from pancreatic cancer at only 36-years-old. She was half the age of a typical victim of pancreatic cancer. She had spent 18 years in the military as a military photojournalist. During that time she did two tours in Iraq, once in 2005 and again in 2007. During that time she was exposed to toxic burn pits. Her family is convinced that her exposure to these burn pits had a negative effect on her health.

They are asking the VA to conduct further research to determine if there is a link, and if there is, determine a way to prevent other military families from losing a loved one. Before her death, Amie was always working to serve the families of other veterans. She spearheaded a program to create videos and pictures for families who lost a loved one. She also designed the Gold Star memorial license plate to commemorate Minnesota’s fallen heroes.

She also fought to raise awareness for other veterans that were exposed to burn pits during her battle with cancer. Her husband an family hope that her memory will live on as the continue to fight for her cause. “My dedication to her is to honor that and to keep that story alive and make sure that veterans get taken care of,” her husband said.

Last month, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a bill to better understand the possible health effects of exposure to burn pits, the VA has opened the Registry for exposed Veterans and Servicemembers, and her husband has started a fundraiser to help other military families that have lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer.