As he’s relentlessly done over the years, Jon Stewart is once again taking on Congress in an effort to ensure that American’s veterans, who were exposed to toxic burn pits overseas, are receiving the proper medical care and financial support they deserve. The comedian made the issue a central topic when he returned to TV with his new series, The Problem with Jon Stewart, but naturally, he wasn’t going to stop there.
On Wednesday, Stewart took part in a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing titled, “The True Cost of our Promise to Toxic-Exposed Veterans,” where he passionately argued that America has a moral obligation to take care of its service members who were exposed to burn pits during combat tours. As Stewart explained back October, the pits are exactly what they sound like. When it came time to clear out of an area, the military essentially burned everything from “old uniforms to hazardous materials, medical waste, batteries, to ammunition, armaments, entire trucks, nuclear waste, amputated body parts, and—the maraschino cherry–metric tons of human feces.”
In the latest hearing, he argued that Congress knew what was happening, but chose to do nothing, and there was a price for that inaction.
“Our country exposed our own veterans to poison for years and we knew about it and we didn’t act with urgency and appropriateness … They’ve died. Out of our inaction.”
— The Recount (@therecount) January 19, 2022
“Our country exposed our own veterans to poison for years and we knew about it and we didn’t act with urgency and appropriateness. And therefore, we’ve lost men and women who’ve served this country. They’ve died out of our inaction. And so I just want to step back for a second and don’t worry so much about the protocol for a new disease, things like that. Let’s not lose the big picture because I know everybody here wants to do the right thing, and it’s really appreciated. I just don’t want to get lost in the sauce here.”
While Stewart was preparing to testify in front of Congress, the former The Daily Show host secured a top honor earlier in the day. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stewart will be presented with the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Award for Lifetime Achievement in Comedy. While announcing the award, the Kennedy Center cited Stewart’s advocacy that was on full display during today’s testimony in front of Congress.
“In these often divisive and challenging times, someone like Jon, through his undaunted advocacy for first responders and veterans, also demonstrates that we all can make a difference in this world through humor, humanity, and patriotism,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement.