WASHINGTON (SBG) — For the Byrnes family, finding all the right pieces in life has been a journey.
Putting them all together has become a joy, said Marine Corps veteran Ashleigh Byrnes, who’s deployment to Afghanistan was at times difficult for her. But since returning, she’s found a new kind of service.
“When I first got here the one thing i kept hearing was that the DAV changed my life I heard that so many times in the first few months that i worked here.”
In addition to the title of mom, she has spent more than 10 years working at Disabled American Veterans, a group Sinclair Broadcast Group has partnered with, mobilizing the Sinclair Strength to support our nation’s veterans in this company-wide campaign to increase awareness of the service the DAV provides to veterans, recruit volunteers, and raise funds for DAV programs.
The 100-year-old organization has one mission: to help Veterans navigate life after service, including the Veterans Affairs healthcare system.
DAV members vote each year on its top priorities.
“Certainly toxic exposure, that’s huge right now. We (saw) so many things go wrong with Agent Orange, we saw so how long people had to wait to get the health care and benefits they needed. Many people didn’t make it long enough to see those benefits paid out,” Byrnes said during an interview last week.
Congress is once again playing catch up, working on legislation following a growing list of documented links between negative health effects including cancer and compounded exposure to burn pits, used to get rid of trash.
“Everything from human waste and ammunition and fuel and the effects on the body after breathing that in so many of these burn pits are in very highly populated areas next to chow hall is next to dining facilities next to places where people are sleeping for and working every day," Byrnes explained.
On Capitol Hill, many lawmakers have proposed legislation to start dealing with this now.
“What we’re trying to do now is move forward to make sure that our veterans that have been fighting the fight for the last 20 years which have been exposed to burn pits and other toxic toxins are treated now, and then make sure that the science then backs up that they were exposed during their time of service and they receive the benefits through the VA,” said Rep. Mike Bost, the ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, in a September interview in his office on Capitol Hill.
For Byrnes, working at an organization that helps veterans on that and so many other issues, has been a recipe for her own recovery, with this gentle reminder ahead of Veterans Day.
“We are resilient group of people. We don’t want pity we do want to chance at living that life that we have to preserve,” she said.
To learn more about how you can help DAV, you can click here.