By William Wisner
Section 201 of the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, Public Law No. 112-260, provided for the creation of what has become known as the Burn Pit Registry. On September 14, 2014, an ALARACT (All Army Activities) was issued on behalf of the Office of the Surgeon General, The United States Army Medical Command (USAMEDCOM), and the United States Army to the members of the Army community. This ALARACT served as notification of the VA’s new Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
The message states that, “veterans who were close to the burn pits or exposed to the smoke for extended periods may be at greater risk for health problems.”
The message goes on to note that exposures may vary depending on a number of factors and that there is not enough medical or scientific information to conclude that long-term health effects have occurred from exposures to smoke or other airborne hazards, such as suspended particulates (sand/dust/pollutants).
Command elements were directed to ensure 100% contact with all soldiers, making them aware of the Burn Pit Registry. The Registry is a voluntary registry that will allow soldiers, sailors, airman and marines to receive information about ongoing health studies and VA services.
The VA Burn Pit Registry is open to any veteran that has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Djibouti, Africa, after September 11, 2001. Veterans of Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm, or anywhere in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations after August 2, 1990. This includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Waters of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea, and the Airspace above these locations.
The VA Burn Pit Registry can be accessed by going to https://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry
UNCLASSIFIED/ FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Subject: ALARACT 216/2014 – ALARACT
2014 AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY
DC/OU=USAITA(UC)/OU=ALARACT RELEASE AUTHORITY(UC) DTG: 091426Z Sep 14
Precedence: PRIORITY DAC: General
To: ALARACT, AL ALARACT(UC)
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
THIS ALARACT MESSAGE HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED BY USAITA ON BEHALF OF
THIS ALARACT MESSAGE IS SENT ON BEHALF OF THE SURGEON GENERAL
SUBJECT: ALARACT 2014 AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY
A. SECTION 201 OF THE DIGNIFIED BURIAL AND OTHER VETERANS’ BENEFITS
IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2012, PUBLIC LAW NO. 112-260
B. USD (P&R) DOD INSTRUCTION 6490.03, DEPLOYMENT HEALTH/11AUG06/CERTIFIED
CURRENT 30 SEP 11
C. 79 FED. REG. 36,142 (25JUN14), NOTICE OF ESTABLISHMENT OF THE AIRBORNE
HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY
D. 78 FED. REG. 7,860 (4FEB13), NOTICE OF INITIAL RESEARCH ON THE LONG-TERM
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF EXPOSURE TO BURN PITS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN//
1. (U) SITUATION. THE OFFICE OF THE SURGEON GENERAL (OTSG), THE UNITED
STATES ARMY MEDICAL COMMAND (USAMEDCOM), AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY NOTIFIES
MEMBERS OF THE ARMY COMMUNITY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS NEW
AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY. VETERANS AND SERVICE MEMBERS
WHO WERE CLOSE TO THE BURN PITS OR EXPOSED TO THE SMOKE FOR EXTENDED PERIODS
MAY BE AT GREATER RISK FOR HEALTH PROBLEMS. HEALTH EFFECTS FROM BURN PIT
EXPOSURE MAY VARY AND DEPEND ON A NUMBER OF FACTORS INCLUDING THE KIND OF
WASTE BEING BURNED, PRE-EXISTING HEALTH CONDITIONS, AND WIND DIRECTION.
THERE IS NOT ENOUGH MEDICAL OR SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION TO CONCLUDE THAT
LONG-TERM HEALTH EFFECTS HAVE OCCURRED FROM EXPOSURES TO SMOKE FROM BURN
PITS OR OTHER AIRBORNE HAZARDS, SUCH AS OTHER SUSPENDED PARTICULATES IN THE
AIR (SAND/DUST/URBAN POLLUTANTS) DURING RECENT DEPLOYMENTS. THE DEPARTMENT
OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA) AND THE DOD CONTINUE TO STUDY THE HEALTH OF
VETERANS AND SERVICE MEMBERS WHO HAVE DEPLOYED TO RECENT CONFLICTS. VA AND
THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD) ARE WORKING ON JOINT INITIATIVES ADDRESSING
CLINICAL ISSUES AND LONG-TERM HEALTH RISKS.
2. (U) MISSION. INFORM SOLDIERS ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
NEW AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY. ENSURE DISSEMINATION OF
AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY INFORMATION AND REGISTRY ACCESS
TO ALL ARMY COMMAND ELEMENTS. COMMAND ELEMENTS WILL ENSURE 100% CONTACT WITH
ALL SOLDIERS. THE AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY IS A DATABASE
OF HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT VETERANS AND SERVICE MEMBERS, WHERE THEY CAN
VOLUNTARILY REGISTER TO BECOME MORE AWARE OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH AND TO
RECEIVE INFORMATION ABOUT ONGOING HEALTH STUDIES AND VA SERVICES. REGISTRY
PARTICIPATION IS OPEN TO ANY VETERAN OR SERVICE MEMBER WHO SERVED IN
AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ, OR IN DJIBOUTI, AFRICA, AFTER 11 SEPTEMBER 2001, OR
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD OR DESERT STORM OR THE SOUTHWEST ASIA THEATER OF
OPERATIONS AFTER 2 AUGUST 1990. THE SOUTHWEST ASIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS
INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS: IRAQ, KUWAIT, SAUDI ARABIA, BAHRAIN, GULF
OF ADEN, GULF OF OMAN, OMAN, QATAR, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, WATERS OF THE
PERSIAN GULF, ARABIAN SEA, AND THE RED SEA, AND THE AIRSPACE ABOVE THESE
3. (U) EXECUTION. SOLDIERS PARTICIPATING IN THE REGISTRY CAN MAKE A
DIFFERENCE IN THEIR HEALTH AND THE HEALTH OF FELLOW SERVICE MEMBERS AND
VETERANS. PARTICIPATION IN THE REGISTRY IS VOLUNTARY. THE REGISTRY WILL
ALLOW SOLDIERS TO BECOME MORE AWARE OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH AND TO
RECEIVE INFORMATION ABOUT ONGOING HEALTH STUDIES AND VA SERVICES.
PARTICIPANTS MAY REQUEST A VOLUNTARY MEDICAL EVALUATION IN WHICH TO DISCUSS
THEIR COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE WITH THEIR HEALTH PROVIDER. THE MEDICAL
EVALUATION IS NOT REQUIRED TO BE IN THE REGISTRY. IN ADDITION, OTHER
BENEFITS INCLUDE HELPING THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS LEARN MORE ABOUT
THE POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS OF EXPOSURE TO BURN PITS AND OTHER AIRBORNE
HAZARDS. DETAILED GUIDANCE FOR OBTAINING A NO COST MEDICAL EVALUATION CAN BE
FOUND ON THE REGISTRY WEBSITE.
4. (U) SUSTAINMENT. SOLDIERS MAY PARTICIPATE IN THE REGISTRY BY COMPLETING
A WEB-BASED HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE AT
HTTPS://VETERAN.MOBILEHEALTH.VA.GOV/AHBURNPITREGISTRY (THIS LINK MUST BE
TYPED IN MIXED CASE LETTERS TO USE IN WEB BROWSERS. ALL LETTERS IN THE URL
ARE LOWERCASE EXCEPT FOR “AHB” AFTER THE LAST FORWARD SLASH,THE “P” IN PIT,
AND THE “R” IN REGISTRY. YOU CAN ALSO TYPE “BURN PIT REGISTRY” IN ANY
SEARCH ENGINE AND ACCESS THE LINK THROUGH NUMEROUS VA PORTALS). TO ACCESS
THE QUESTIONNAIRE YOU WILL NEED YOUR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SELF-SERVICE
LOGON (DS LOGON). YOU MAY APPLY FOR A DS LOGON ACCOUNT AT
HTTPS://WWW.DMDC.OSD.MIL/APPJ/DSACCESS (THIS LINK MUST BE TYPED IN LOWERCASE
LETTER TO USE IN WEB BROWSERS) IF YOU DO NOT ALREADY HAVE ONE. THE DS LOGON
IS A SECURE, SELF-SERVICE IDENTIFICATION THAT ALLOWS SERVICEMEMBERS AND
VETERANS TO ACCESS SEVERAL WEBSITES USING A SINGLE USERNAME AND PASSWORD.
VA WILL USE DEPLOYMENT DATA PROVIDED BY DOD TO DETERMINE SERVICEMEMBER
ELIGIBILITY FOR THE REGISTRY.
5. (U) COMMAND AND SIGNAL.
5.A. (U) DOD AIRBORNE HAZARDS AND OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY COORDINATORS:
5.A.1. (U) DR. DEANNA HARKINS, USAPHC, EMP, DSN 584-2714, CML (410)
436-2714 (MCHB-IP-MEM), E-MAIL: DEANNA.K.HARKINS.CIV@MAIL.MIL.
5.A.2. (U) DR. COLEEN BAIRD, USAPHC, EMP, (MCHB-IP-MEM), DSN 584-2714, CML
(410) 436-2714, EMAIL: COLEEN.P.BAIRD.CIV@MAIL.MIL.
5.B. (U) HQDA AOC-CAT: SURGEON, COM: 703-693-4821, DSN: 223-4821, MAIL:
5.C. (U) MESSAGE EXPIRES 09 SEP 15