WATCH: Comedian Jon Stewart and other veteran advocates testify in Congress on soldiers exposed to toxic fumes

The House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs committee held a hearing on Wednesday on veterans exposed to toxic fumes.

Watch in the player above.

Veteran advocates such as Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Service Director Patrick Murray and comedian Jon Stewart were among those who testified.

Stewart made an urgent plea to House lawmakers to give resources and financial support to veterans that have been exposed to ‘burn pits’ through their service to the United States. Official acknowledgement of the impact of burn pits has been slow because staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs “are afraid of being overwhelmed,” Stewart said. But what is needed is “first-rate toxic exposure health care.”

“The bottom line is this: Our country exposed our own veterans to poison for years and we knew about it and we didn’t act with urgency and appropriateness,” said Stewart.

Many veterans have lived and served next to so-called burn pits, where service members incinerated everything from tires to batteries.
Veterans groups argue the pits created toxic smoke that afflicted service members with higher-than-average rates of asthma, bronchitis, even cancer. But many veterans’ claims that their illnesses were caused by their service have been denied.