During his State of the Union speech on March 1, 2022, President Joe Biden announced a call to expand veterans’ benefits to cover even more people suffering from burn pit exposure. During his speech, he also mentioned a possibility that his son Beau Biden’s cancer might have been caused by burn pits.
He Said That the Beau Biden Lived Near a Burn Pit
The moment came near the end of his speech. Biden was speaking about burn pit victims and expanding more healthcare coverage to them. He said about his son:
When they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors were never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know. One of those soldiers was my son Major Beau Biden. I don’t know if the burn pit he lived near, that his hooch was near in Iraq – earlier than that, in Kosovo – was the cause of his brain cancer, or the disease of so many of our troops. But I’m committed to finding out everything we can.
Biden revealed in his speech that there was a chance his son’s cancer was caused, at least in part, by burn pits.
Here’s the full transcript of the portion of his speech about burn pits, as released by the White House to The New York Times and other publications, where he spoke about the burn pits. Note that this transcript varies slightly from some of his live comments.
Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced many dangers. One being stationed at bases and breathing in toxic smoke from “burn pits.” Many of you have been there… These burn pits that incinerated wastes of war—medical and hazard material, jet fuel, and so much more.
When they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin.
I know. One of those soldiers was my son Major Beau Biden. We don’t know for sure if a burn pit was the cause of his brain cancer, or the diseases of so many of our troops. But I’m committed to finding out everything we can.
Committed to military families like Danielle Robinson from Ohio. The widow of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson. He was born a soldier. Army National Guard. Combat medic in Kosovo and Iraq.Stationed near Baghdad, just yards from burn pits the size of football fields. Heath’s widow Danielle is here with us tonight. They loved going to Ohio State football games. He loved building Legos with their daughter. But cancer from prolonged exposure to burn pits ravaged Heath’s lungs and body. Danielle says Heath was a fighter to the very end. He didn’t know how to stop fighting, and neither did she. Through her pain she found purpose to demand we do better.
Tonight, Danielle—we are.
The VA is pioneering new ways of linking toxic exposures to diseases, already helping more veterans get benefits.
And tonight, I’m announcing we’re expanding eligibility to veterans suffering from nine respiratory cancers.
I’m also calling on Congress: pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they deserve.
Beau Biden Died of Brain Cancer at the Age of 46
Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer. The Washington Post noted that Beau Biden died from a tumor called a glioblastoma that “is an aggressive cancer that is the most common of all malignant brain tumors.” Beau was diagnosed when he was serving as attorney general for Delaware in 2013. For awhile, he went back to work after having surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. He died in May 2015 at the age of 46.
NBC reported about Beau Biden’s cancer: “A glioblastoma is the most common brain tumor that affects adults. It is also the most rapidly growing malignant tumor of the brain, with the shortest survival rate. Death may occur within months.”
Biden had previously told PBS that he was concerned about a connection between Beau’s cancer and burn pits. He said a book about burn pits revealed that his son had served at locations near the pits both in Kosovo and when he was in Iraq.
In the video above, Jon Stewart explained burn pits during an episode of his show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart.”