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Jon Stewart Heads To Capitol Hill To Push For Veteran Health Benefits

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Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 first responders, is also lending his star power to push for increased health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits in the battlefield. Natalie Brand reports.

Video Transcript

- Former talk show host Jon Stewart was back on Capitol Hill today to push for health benefits for veterans.

- CBS 2's Natalie Brand reports from Washington.

JON STEWART: The only thing that hasn't happened is action. So no more excuses.

NATALIE BRAND: Jon Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 first responders, is also lending his star power to a push for increased health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits in the battlefield.

JON STEWART: It can't be about, jeez, I don't know if we should add head and neck cancers because that's going to add another $100 million. Like, no more.

NATALIE BRAND: He joined lawmakers who introduced a new bill that would streamline the VA review process for veterans who have 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to burn pits and airborne hazards, and establish a presumption of service connection.

MARK TAKANO: No veterans should be forced to prove that their government exposed them to toxic substances, and our bill fixes that.

NATALIE BRAND: One of the families who had battled the VA over exposure to burn pits shared their story with CBS News this past April.

- I kept saying, my husband is going to die before you even give him a yes or no.

NATALIE BRAND: Marine veteran Jason Howard lost his battle to brain cancer just weeks after the VA finally approved his claim.

Last month, lawmakers introduced a separate bipartisan bill to help veterans who were exposed to toxins from burn pits. Wednesday's bill goes even further.

MARK TAKANO: We cannot continue to tackle this topic one disability or one exposure group at a time.

NATALIE BRAND: Lawmakers say the proposed legislation would provide health care for as many as 3.5 million veterans. Natalie Brand, CBS News, Capitol Hill.