June 18, 2016
“It makes me really mad,” said Muller, who monitored and edited video feeds from Air Force fighter jet missions while in Iraq. “I inhaled that stuff. It was all day, all night. Everything that they burned there, is illegal to burn in America. That tells you something.”
ELIZABETH FLORES – STAR TRIBUNEAmie Muller received a chemotherapy treatment at Mayo Clinic, Thursday, June 16, 2016.
While it took nearly three decades for the U.S. government to eventually link Agent Orange, the defoliant used in Vietnam, to cancer, President Obama has pledged quick action to make determinations about the effect of the burn pits on perhaps as many as 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.ROCHESTER – They are known as the Agent Orange of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: Massive open-air burn pits at U.S. military bases that billowed the toxic smoke and ash of everything from Styrofoam, metals and plastics to electrical equipment and even human body parts.
The flames were stoked with jet fuel.
One of the most notorious was in Balad, site of the largest and busiest air base operated by the military in Iraq. More than 10 acres in size, the pit burned at all hours and consumed an estimated 100 to 200 tons of waste a day. It was hastily constructed upwind from the base, and its plumes consistently drifted toward the 25,000 troops stationed there.
During two deployments to Balad with the Minnesota Air National Guard, Amie Muller worked and lived next to the pits. And now, she believes, she is paying the price.
Diagnosed last month with Stage III pancreatic cancer, the 36-year-old mother of three from Woodbury has just completed her third round of chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic here. As she undergoes treatment, she struggles with anger and awaits a VA determination on whether a host of ailments from migraines to fibromyalgia is connected to her military service at Balad.
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