(Vince Crawley/Stars and Stripes)

Somewhere in the Saudi Arabian desert, 1991: An American service member tends a burning trash pit.

Millions of veterans exposed to hazardous substances during military service — from burn pits and sulfur fires to asbestos and firefighting foams — became eligible March 5 for free or low-cost care at Department of Veterans Affairs health facilities. Enrollment in VA health care is open to qualifying veterans from the Vietnam War, Gulf War, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Global War on Terrorism, or any other combat zone after 9/11.

Follow Stars and Stripes’ continuing coverage of VA benefit expansion at

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