On June 9, 1997, 18-year-old Claudia E. Barros joined the U.S. Army where she would work in the intelligence field.
In 2009, Barros was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, from Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of Combined Joint Task Force Paladin in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where she served as the noncommissioned officer for a joint intelligence section.
“I was there during the surge,” Barros said. “The Taliban had a permanent presence in the majority of the country. The insurgent attacks were frequent and deadly.”
While in Afghanistan, she was exposed to open burn pits used by U.S. troops to destroy plastics, batteries, medical waste, ammunition and other things to keep them from enemy hands or and from impacting the environment.
“I served near burn pits while I was deployed,” Barros said.
Since her return from Afghanistan, Barros said she has had some medical problems due to being around burn pits.
“I have registered through the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry,” Barros said. “I am dealing with medical problems through my medical provider.”
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is for veterans and service members who have deployed to the Southwest Asia theater of operations on or after Aug. 2, 1990, as well as those who have deployed to Afghanistan or Djibouti after Sept. 11, 2001, can use the registry questionnaire to report exposures to airborne hazards (such as smoke from burn pits, oil-well fires or pollution during deployment), as well as other exposures and health concerns.
“I continue to pray for the people of Afghanistan and my brothers and sisters who continue to serve in the area,” Barros said.
Barros, who retired from the Army as a first sergeant in July 2018, served her country honorably for 21 years. She lives in Leander.
To register for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. Log on to veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home.