Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart pressed Congress on Tuesday to help sick U.S. veterans who believe they were injured after their exposure to military burn pits while serving overseas.
Watch Stewart’s remarks in the player above.
“We always have money for war. We never have money for the war fighter,” Stewart said during a Capitol Hill news conference.
Burn pits were a common method of waste disposal during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Storm and other recent U.S. military actions.
“Our veterans lived 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, next to toxic smoke, dioxins, everything,” he said.
Stewart, alongside other activists and the families of veterans who are sick or have died, discussed legislation proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., that would give benefits to those who are suffering.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs website, their current research doesn’t, “show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits,” but are building a registry of veterans who may have been exposed during their service.
The bill would label burn pit exposure as a presumptive condition similar to illnesses developed from Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
“We’re here today to say we’re not going to let this happen in the dark. We’re going to make sure that every one of those [congress]people goes on record and is held accountable for the illnesses of our veterans,” Stewart said.
Stewart has previously advocated for an extension to a compensation fund for 9/11 first responders.