OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Veterans are camping out on the United States Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. to protest Senate Republicans who voted against a bill that would help veterans affected by burn pits.
Former Marine Tim Jensen, who attended Assault Amphibian School Battalion at Camp Pendleton, also co-owns veteran clothing brand Gruntstyle and is helping to lead the fight for the PACT Act in the nation’s capital. He served in Iraq and says the burn pits left him and many other veterans with lasting medical problems.
“I was in the triangle of death in Iraq in 2004 – 2005. Where we were operating, we worked out of four different bases and inside every one of the bases was a burn pit. It destroyed the footprint of our trash,” Jensen said.
Toxic burn pits impacts Jensen’s health to this day.
“I have a severe case of psoriasis that is happening on my body that. I’m a 44-year-old man. I have no family history of this and now it’s becoming an issue for me,” he said.
An issue Jensen is taking to the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where he and other veterans have been camping out since Thursday after Senate Republicans voted against the PACT Act.
“It’s designed to change government accounting. Rules so that they can have a $400 billion spending spree,” Senator Pat Toomey said while speaking on CBS News Sunday’s Face The Nation.
The bill would help veterans exposed to burn pits get access to care.
“It’s a shame that we are out here having to do this. We’ve been here since Thursday. I flew in Wednesday night expecting a celebration. What I got was heartbreak and disappointment,” Jensen said.
Jensen is working with non-profit Burn Pits 360 and Comedian Jon Stewart, urging Senate Republicans to pass the bill for the veterans who need care now.
“I would implore any San Diego or California military that you believe that you were exposed, this bill is for you,” Jensen said. “All of us that went to Afghanistan and Iraq, and all of the other countries that were involved in the global war on terrorism, we were 100% exposed and there’s a likelihood of 25-30% that we’re all going to die from it.”
Jensen and the other veterans camping out in D.C. say the bill now has to go through two more votes that could happen as early as Tuesday.