PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- You've likely heard many stories over the years of veterans dealing with PTSD or soldiers learning to live as an amputee but there's another lesser-known challenge tormenting our soldiers.
Exposure to toxic burn pits while in Iraq and Afghanistan could have devastating effects on the lungs. While tens of thousands of veterans have signed the VA's burn pit registry, nothing else is being done...until now.
Joe Hernandez served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the US army. During that time he was exposed to toxic burn pits where the military burned waste like chemicals, ammunition, oil, anything they had to get rid of.
Hernandez explained that depending on which way the wind would shift, he would breathe in the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan for extended periods of time.
“It's war, it's not pretty. You got so many other things that are going to kill you on a daily basis so it's like well what are you going to do?” Hernandez revealed.
When Hernandez came home in 2009, he struggled and had to adjust to becoming a regular civilian. Eventually, he found relief in fitness and started a new career in Florida as a personal trainer. However, Hernandez started to notice that although he was in great shape, he was lethargic and got winded way too easy, and even struggled to breathe.
Photos: Burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan
Hernandez was introduced to Dr. Harrell, a regenerative medicine innovator in Palm Harbor, Florida. Dr. Harrell invented a lung treatment for burn pit exposure and Hernandez participated in a trial.
Dr. Harrell explained, “I invented a way to stimulate your own cells, we actually call it the stem cell stimulator where they can actually inhale some of these growth factors that get down to the base of the lungs where the problems are and help the lungs regenerate itself.”
Joe Hernandez said he immediately felt better. The treatment was administered three times, about a week apart, and took about five minutes each time.
Dr. Harrell said he's cured all of the veterans he's treated so far. His goal now is to make his treatment easily accessible for all veterans suffering from burn pit exposure.
Joe Hernandez sums it up best:
“If I can't breathe or I don't feel well because I can't breathe, then what was the point of coming back alive? To be miserable here in America? No, that's not why you went.”
For more information about Dr. Harrell's treatment using PurAcel Inhalation Solution, please contact the company's COO, Dr. Crissy Fellabaum, at 727-781-0818 or email email@example.com
Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis has been vocal about helping veterans dealing with burn pit exposure. His office sent 10News a statement that said in part:
Since the VA has not established a formal nexus between exposure to the toxins and the diseases with which Veterans have been diagnosed, these Veterans do not have access to the medical care or benefits to which they rightfully deserve. These Veterans are literally dying while they await this bureaucratic formality.
Congressman Bilirakis was instrumental in pushing the VA to open a registry in 2014 for veterans exposed to burn pits and has been advocating for the VA to expedite their formal declaration of the link and offer presumptive status for veterans suffering.
There is currently one bill (HR 1279 Helping Vets Exposed to Burn Pits Act) pending regarding burn pits. It would create a Center of Excellence for studying the impact of burn pits.
Congressman Bilirakis said he'd like to file an additional bill this month to make presumptive status available for veterans, ensuring health care benefits from the VA as well as compensation.
To hear more from Congressman Bilirakis regarding veterans exposed to burn pits, watch the video below:
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