Last month, I was driving home from the hospital, and something caught my eye as I made the turn from 90 onto 410. There to the west, a car had overturned and caught on fire. The firetruck and ambulance were already there, but what struck me was the column of smudgy smoke rising into the sky. I looked at that plume of smoke rising into the pale afternoon sky, and I was instantly transported back to Balad, trudging to work through the mud and gravel, staring at the smoke trail of the ever-smoldering burn pit. The memory was a full wave of sensation. I could smell the acrid smoke in my nostrils, taste its bitter motes in the back of my throat, and feel the teary sting in my eyes. When I bid farewell to Balad earlier this year, a glance over my shoulder was all it took to know that it would burn on after my departure.
On Monday, Army Times reporter Kelly Kennedy published a piece on the burn pit.
Although it was good to know that progress was being made to reduce the amount of garbage burned there to 147 tons/day, I hope the day comes soon when it is closed down for good. Even one troop suffering ill health effects from the pit it is too many.
If you don't recognize Ms. Kennedy's name, she is the one who was able to bring the American public news of the conditions for injured veterans at Walter Reed.
Even if you knew that, you might not know that she is a veteran herself, having served for all of us in the Middle East before establishing herself as a journalist. It is no wonder that she wants make sure that veterans get the best. They deserve no less.