‘It’s bulls***’ — Jon Stewart says U.S. should aid veterans exposed to toxins
Jon Stewart left his New Jersey farm Tuesday and headed back to Washington, D.C., to help support a new measure for veterans suffering long-term illness linked to their service.
The legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., concerns "burn pits," where service members in the Middle East gathered materials and set them on fire on the orders of their commanding officers, as described by Stewart in an earlier video posted to Youtube by MoveOn.
Toxic fumes inhaled by those tending to such pits, used to burn waste and hazardous materials at military sites in Afghanistan and Iraq, have led to some of the same cancers and respiratory illnesses developed by 9/11 first responders, according to Stewart.
"Our veterans lived 24 hours a day, seven days a week next to toxic smoke, dioxins — everything. And now they're being told, 'Hey man, is that stuff bad for you? I don't know, we don't have the science.' It's bulls***. It's bulls***. It's about money," Stewart said at a news conference Tuesday, where he was also joined by Army veteran and longtime first responder advocate, John Feal.
Stewart continued "And we're here today to say we're not going to let this happen in the dark."
Gillibrand said her legislation is aimed at getting those veterans "the health care they desperately need." The bill would streamline the process for obtaining Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for burn pit and other toxic exposures.
Stewart and Feal also have created an online petition for the public to show support for the proposed legislation. More than 126,000 people had signed it by Wednesday afternoon.
Roughly 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits, that spewed toxic fumes and carcinogens into the air, according to a written release from Gillibrand's office.
Since leaving his desk as host at "The Daily Show," Stewart has become an advocate for 9/11 responders who have grown fatally ill in the 19 years since their extended time in the toxic environment of Ground Zero.
Last summer, President Donald Trump signed a bill ensuring that a victims' compensation fund related to the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money. Stewart had been a passionate champion of that measure, alongside Feal and other responders who have since died of their 9/11 related illnesses.
Stewart and his wife, Tracy, also devote much of their collective time to their private Monmouth County farm and animal sanctuary.
Also more recently, he co-wrote and directed a political satire, "Irresistable," starring Steve Carrell, Rose Byrne and Chris Cooper, which debuted during the pandemic in June.