Jon Stewart has criticized Americans for posting Memorial Day on social media while failing to show up in support of veterans who are sick and dying from toxic exposure to fire pits.
“Where are the American people?” he demanded.
The TV host and veteran attorney takes the stage Saturday afternoon at the Rolling to Remember event in Washington DC, where veterans, their families and attorneys called on Congress to pass the Honoring our PACT Act.
Mr. Stewart urged Americans to put pressure on their senators to pass the comprehensive incineration pit law, while urging token of support for American veterans over Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s hard to be here today and not get frustrated again when I look at the crowd and see the same thing I always see: veterans and their families and caregivers,” he said.
“But where are the American people? This is Memorial Day weekend.”
He pointed to the tweets and the Memorial Day discounts at restaurants across the country, at a time when veterans are fighting to access the health care and disability benefits they need after serving their country abroad.
“Man, you are going to read the tweets this weekend. You’re going to look at the Facebook pages and you’re going to think to yourself, ‘Oh America loves me. Boy, they love us.’
“You go to Applebee’s, they’re going to give you the baby back ribs – 20 percent off, not even 10 percent because of how much they support you and yet we come here today seeking the support of the American people and what have we got behind me? ” he said.
“They’re veterans’ organizations, they’re veterans, they’re their families.
“This country can’t be this 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 to honor the late Sgt First Class Heath Robinson who died at age 39 of a rare cancer caused by burns. potholes.
If the landmark law is passed, 23 cancers, respiratory illnesses and other conditions will likely be linked to veterans’ exposure to fire pits while deployed abroad.
Stewart said it would only take six more senators to pass the bill.
Speak with the independent at the Washington DC meeting on Saturday, he said he is confident lawmakers will “do the right thing.”
“There’s a whole group right now that’s 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 twofold and we’re going to trust that, when it comes down to it, they will do the right thing as Americans.”
Stewart said all senators who voted to approve a $40 billion military and humanitarian relief package for Ukraine should vote to approve a package for the veterans serving the US.
“Any senator who voted to send $40 billion to Ukraine can stand up and do the right thing by this country’s veterans,” he said.
The PACT bill is estimated to cost about $1 billion in the coming years.
Only 11 senators — all Republicans — opposed sending $40 billion to Ukraine.
John Feal, 9/11 responder, veteran advocate and founder of the FealGood Foundation, said: the independent that he questions the patriotism and humanity of all lawmakers who do not support the bill that has the backing of 65 major veterans’ organizations.
“There are 46 Republican senators who should be on this bill just because it’s the right choice,” 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 do the right thing.
“So whether we get to 60, 68 or 74, those who don’t come on board, America will be their judge.”
Mr. Feal was confident that not only will the bill get the 60 votes it needs to pass, but at least 67 senators will vote yes.
“There are good people in the Senate who will do the right thing,” he said, adding that when lawmakers come back from recess next week, “we will all be for it” to ensure the bill is passed.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill in the first week of June.
In April, the comprehensive fire pit bill was passed by the House, with all Democrats and 34 Republicans voting in favor of its approval.
Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs announced that Democrats and Republicans had finally reached a bipartisan agreement on the bill after months of negotiations.
An important difference between the House version and the agreement reached in the Senate is that there would be a phase-in period for diseases believed to be related to exposure to toxic substances.
If the bill passes the Senate, it is expected to be signed in July.
President Joe Biden, who believes his son Beau Biden could have died from fire pits from his deployment to Iraq, has said he will sign the bill once it is on 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 veteran community fought for years for the U.S. government to take the issue of the fire pits seriously. .
During the U.S. post-September 11 wars, U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan used huge open-air pits to burn mountains of waste, including food packaging, human waste and military equipment.
Thousands of U.S. servicemen returned home from deployment and developed health problems, including rare cancers, lung diseases, respiratory diseases and toxic brain injuries caused by inhaling the toxic fumes from the pits.
According to Veterans Affairs, an estimated 3.5 million military and veterans have been exposed to fire pits and airborne toxins while serving the US abroad.
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 fire pits are mentioned are approved by the VA.
Mr. Stewart described how U.S. servicemen and women who returned from America’s post-9/11 wars, sick and dying from exposure to toxins, were then “tried” by the government that sent them there to prove that their condition was directly caused by serving their country.
“This is arguably one of the lowest hanging fruits of the US legislative agenda,” he said.
“Those who took up arms in defense of this country and its constitution suffered serious damage in that defense and when they got home, we brought them to justice.”
He described the US government backlash that veterans have long faced after becoming ill from exposure to toxic substances.
‘Do you have cancer? Prove it was us,” he said
“‘I slept next to a burning field of s**t and jet fuel.”
“Yeah, I don’t know, but you smoke Camel Lights too, so how do we know it was us?”
He added: “You shouldn’t have to prove it. You shouldn’t be a defendant in a lawsuit about your own health.”