December 23, 2015
Senior Airman Frances Gavalis tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base, Iraq, on March 10, 2008. Julianne Showalter/Air ForceBurn pit exposure as a cause of illnesses among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan failed to make the 2016 list of peer-reviewed medical research programs that Congress requires the Defense Department to conduct.
The absence of burn pit exposure on the list was confirmed on Tuesday by a spokeswoman for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
"Congress designates the topic areas for each fiscal year, and these topic areas change each year," Gail Whitehead told Military.com.
The research programs fall under the Department of Defense budget.
"There's nothing comparable," said Anthony Hardie, director of Veterans for Common Sense. "There's very little research inside the [Department of Veterans Affairs]."
Ron Brown, president of the National Gulf War Research Center, which has long advocated for more medical research into Gulf War Illness and now burn pit exposure, said he didn't know why the topic was discontinued.
It was added for the first time to the list in 2015, according to Brown, who took part in the peer reviewed process this year.
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