Jon Stewart brings awareness to burn pits, marching through Wilmington to Senator Richard Burr’s office

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thursday, former Daily Show host and comedian Jon Stewart marched through the streets of Wilmington, straight to Senator Richard Burr’s office.

Stewart has lobbied for years to pass laws providing 9/11 first responders better healthcare. Now, he and others are working to pass the PACT Act, a bill that would help Afghanistan and Iraq veterans get healthcare if they were around burn pits, believed to be linked to deadly cancers and diseases.

“I’ve got my heart and soul in this, you know,” said Susie Zeier, who drove all the way from Ohio for the rally. “When you lose a family member and your granddaughter doesn’t have a daddy anymore, I’ll go anywhere in the country to tell my story and my son in law’s story.”

Zeier says her son-in-law was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer and autoimmune disease that doctors linked to his work around burn pits. Trash, plastic, human waste, and toxic chemicals like agent orange were thrown into the massive pits, and then members of the military would then use jet fuel to burn the items.

“The military medically separated him, and he had to go under VA care, and at that time, his care went to hell. They denied him prescription medication, they denied imaging, they delayed approvals for his cancer treatments,” Zeier explained.

She believes if this bill was around years ago, her son-in-law might still be alive. The PACT Act has passed the House, now it needs nine more Republican senators to become law. Stewart says some republicans have objected to the cost.

“Well, the trillions, and trillions of dollars that your spent on those wars that weren’t paid for tell me that you’ve never been fiscally responsible,” Stewart said to a crowd.

This is the closest Congress has been to passing the PACT Act, a bill Stewart believes is necessary to serve and protect those who served and protected us.

“We’re very comfortable calling them heroes,” he said. “And we’re very comfortable thanking them for their service, and we’re very comfortable getting them a ten percent discount on an appetizer at Chili’s. But that’s not patriotism and that’s not support. These men and women are suffering because of their sacrifice for us.”

Stewart said he will travel to the home states of several other republican senators to get support. We reached out to Senator Burr, but did not get a response. His aide at his Wilmington office did not comment.

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