President Joe Biden called to action the improvement of health care services for veterans after they’ve returned home during a speech last Tuesday in southeast Fort Worth.
In Texas, there are 1.4 million veterans, making up 6.5% of the state’s population.
“From the bottom of my heart, veterans are the backbone, the spine, the sinew of who we are in this country,” Biden told veterans and local political leaders in the audience at the Veteran’s Affairs Resource Connection Clinic on March 8.
Biden touched on four topics he deemed main issues within the nation: the opioid epidemic, children’s mental health, ending cancer and supporting our veterans.
Before Biden took the podium, Fort Worth city council member Elizabeth Beck spoke about her year-long deployment to Iraq in 2005.
“Nearly every day of those 12 months, I woke up coughing and blowing black matter out of my nose,” Beck said. ”We knew something was off but we sucked it up, and we walked it off.”
She said she later learned the black matter and coughing was a side effect from being exposed to toxic chemicals that seeped out of the burn pit that blazed constantly. “I did not connect my symptoms with my service,” she said.
Burn pits are used to incinerate all waste from war. The emissions from these burn pits release toxic chemicals into the air causing various health care problems like asthma and even cancer.
“We don’t know yet enough about the connection with burn pits and each of these diseases so many of our veterans are now facing, but I am committed to making the commitment to America to find out everything we can,” Biden said. “We owe you.”
Biden called for quick actions to address this issue, noting that 17 veterans a day commit suicide, which is more deaths per day than during combat. He stressed the importance of encouraging veterans to ask for help and taking steps to provide the proper early on care for cancer patients.
“They shouldn’t have to ask for a damn thing,” Biden said. “It should be, ‘I’ve got a problem’ and we should say, ‘How can we help?’”