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Navy Times: Burn-pit registry for veterans signed into law

President Obama signed legislation Thursday requiring the Veterans Affairs Department to establish a registry for troops and veterans who lived and worked near open-air burn pits used to dispose waste in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas.

In addition to including new requirements for providing a casket or urn for veterans with no known next of kin and establishing care for a military cemetery in the Philippines, the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans Benefits Improvement Act, S. 3202, aims to pinpoint the number of veterans who may have been exposed to burn-pit smoke so VA can track their medical histories and keep them apprised of new treatments for associated conditions.

Troops deployed in support of contingency operations and stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used will be eligible to register.

VA said Thursday it will announce directions for signing up when the registry becomes available.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., one of the bill’s sponsors, became involved in promoting the registry after a constituent, Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jessey Baca, fell ill following deployment.