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Area veterans look forward to more funding

As a bill to help veterans receive better care awaits approval, Senator Casey heard the stories from veterans who will benefit from it.

SCRANTON, Pa. — In a conference room on the campus of Lackawanna College, veterans from our area shared stories about some of the problems they've faced since returning home from war, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I was around burn pits. What's gonna happen to me in 10,15, 20 years? I'm sure that there's a lot of veterans out there that didn't even know what's happening to them. They feel some burning sensation in their lungs, but I don't know was it COVID? Was it? I don't know pneumonia? Was it something else? I don't know," said Andy Chomko, U.S. Army Veteran.

"Eighty-two of my troops, my Marine soldiers and sailors were killed in action there. And now many of them continue to suffer the ill effects of that war by wounds and disease that cannot be seen, but has it adversely affected their lives in significant ways," said John Gronski, U.S. Army Veteran.

Senator Bob Casey listened to these stories. He expects approval of legislation to help get care for veterans exposed to toxins while they served.

"It gives us a rationale for why it was so important to pass this legislation to provide three and a half million veterans this kind of access to health care," he said.

"You didn't even know that you may have been exposed to something you know or didn't know that. This is now a symptom of what you were previously exposed to. So that it will definitely help a lot of people and especially for the families of service members who have passed away," said Amber Viola, U.S. Navy Veteran.

The bill will also fund improvements in care for veterans through the Department of the VA.  

"We see all the time, you know, 2000 backlogged claims, veterans are dying because of some of these conditions, and somebody's not pushing that, that paperwork forward all the time. It's sad because then the claim stops, and a spouse has to start over," said David Eisele, Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs.

Senator Casey hopes for the Veterans Affairs health care bill to be passed and be on the President's desk law next week.

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