Some veterans blame deadly health effects on war-zone exposure to open-pit burning

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — At first, Chelsey Poisson misunderstood what her boyfriend meant when he told her a lot of his friends from Iraq have died.
She thought he meant in the war. “No,” he said. “They died when they came home.”

Of the 30 men in his platoon, Kyle Simoni told Poisson, five have died since they left Iraq in 2008. Half the rest, including him, have issues such as sleep apnea, Crohn’s disease, tumors, vitamin D deficiencies or endocrine problems, such as an inability to produce testosterone. One went through surgery to reconstruct his entire nasal cavity.

His best friend, Sgt. Patrick Sullivan, 24, of California, he said, died in Germany a few months after they left Iraq, of acute respiratory failure.
Simoni, 31, was in Iraq from January 2007 to October 2008. He met Poisson, now 28, in 2014, when they frequented the same Dunkin’ in Plainville, Massachusetts, where she lives with her grandparents. Now Poisson, a nursing student about to graduate from Rhode Island College, and Simoni are engaged.

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Illinois is taking action over deaths of its state’s veterans who died from Legionnaires’ disease at an elderly facility. There has been an ongoing investigation for years into 14 deaths of veterans from Legionnaires in that state.

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The top-ranking official from the Vermont National Guard, whose family believes his aggressive cancer was due to his exposure to burn pits, died on Wednesday.