The Agent Orange of Iraq and Afghanistan

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Perhaps the most literal consequence of the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan shows up in soldier's lungs, and what they cough up.

Around 60,000 veterans have suffered from the effects of massive burn pits set up near military camps in the Middle East. They're operated by military contractors, like Kellog Brown and Root, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, paid to dispose of toxic chemicals.

Jennifer Percy is a contributing editor at The New Republic who investigated the burn pits. Her article, "The Things They Burned," can be read in the December issue of The New Republic.

And Senior Master Sergeant Jessey Baca, who did two tours in Iraq, has been diagnosed with a terminal illness as a result of the open landfills, which were filled with all the detritus of modern warfare - batteries, entire vehicles, even human bodies - and set ablaze with jet fuel.

Baca and Percy say that the U.S. government has refused to acknowledge the effects of the pits - a familiar war story.