While serving in the military in Iraq, retired Navy veteran Lauren Price contracted a terminal lung disease called Constrictive Bronchiolitis, due to exposure to the open-air burn pits which the Defense Department uses to dispose of literally everything. For the past ten years, she has been fighting to bring the military’s dangerous disposal practice to a screeching halt, even as thousands of service members have also contracted lung diseases, cancers, and other serious illnesses.
Price enlisted in the Navy in January 2005, when she was 39 years old, excited to be serving her country. Two years later, she was sent to Iraq.
In an interview with DML News recently, Price said she understood very well the dangers of war and the risks she faced from the enemy. What she did not realize – and was never warned about – was that she would be exposed to toxic fumes being pumped into the air 24/7, by the U.S. military, through the use of open-air burn pits.
Anything and everything is thrown into the large burn pits for disposal – the daily trash from the military bases included plastics, styrofoam, metal cans, rubber tires, discarded chemicals, paints, solvents, petroleum, ammunitions, wood scraps, garbage, medical waste, and even amputated body parts, Price said.
Jet fuel is used to keep the pit burning, and black clouds of smoke from the burn pits rise into the sky across the area, filling the air with toxic fumes.
In Iraq, Price was assigned as the lead convoy driver for her Battalion. By the time she returned to the U.S. in April 2008, she had received injuries to her hands, requiring multiple surgeries. In addition, she could hardly breathe. She was finally diagnosed with Constrictive Bronchiolitis, a terminal lung disease, and now has only about 35 percent lung function.
Price said complaints were lodged in 2009 about the open-air burn pits, and the military agreed they were dangerous and allegedly ordered that it be stopped. Safer incinerators were supposed to be used instead. However, Price said the burn pits are still being used, and current military members have sent her photos proving it.
Lauren and her husband, Jim Price, a 21-year Navy veteran, have founded Veteran Warriors Advocacy, a national veterans’ advocacy group which works on behalf of other veterans who need help, and tirelessly fights for legislation to improve care for veterans, as well as demanding that use of the burn pits be halted.
On July 18, Price is finally going to have her say, as she will be testifying in a roundtable discussion before The House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Subcommittee on Health and other national advocates. She said she intends to take a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and sit it on the table, and suggest that she should just light it up there in the building – knowing she will be reminded that smoking is not allowed inside the building, as there is evidence proving that second-hand smoke will kill people.
Price then noted that there is already sufficient evidence gathered proving that toxic fumes cause diseases and kill people, and yet thousands of military service members are still being exposed to the toxic fumes from the burn pits, and thousands of others are already sick or dying and need medical care.
Last week, Price was interviewed by her local NBC station, WFLA, of Tampa, Florida. Below is the video of that interview.
In the following video, the Columbus Dispatch published a report in March 2018, interviewing three veterans in Ohio who have also become sickened from the burn pits.
In March 2017, CBS Minnesota featured a young Minnesota mother who died from a cancer she believed was linked exposure to the burn pits.
LeRoy Torres became ill almost immediately after his return from Iraq in 2008, and was also diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis. Below is his story.