PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — It is a story and a bill abc27 news has been following for almost a year.

It started with the death of celebrated Mechanicsburg soldier Scott Laird, who passed away following his return from Iraq, where he was constantly exposed to burn pits.

Masses of loved ones lined up for a final goodbye for the Upper Allen Township resident. He passed away on Nov. 1 at 40 years old after a six-month battle with stage IV colon cancer.  

“Scott was a great friend, a good officer, and an even better man. You could see a lot of people were blessed by knowing him,” Steve Zahuranec, who served with Scott in 2008 in Iraq, said.

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His two sons and his wife, Michelle Laird, accepted a flag in his honor. His wife is still fighting for veterans like Scott.

Scott’s wife, Michelle, says she, their doctor, and Scott believe the diagnosis is due to exposure to toxic burn pits while deployed in Iraq in 2008.

“When he first told me about the burn pits I didn’t understand what he was talking about, I was like imagining like a barrel and you just put it in there and just set it on fire…..that is not the case,” Michelle said. She described pits the size of football fields, huge piles of human waste and toxic trash.

“I served in 2003 and 2005, these burn pits were prevalent on military bases and they burned everything from trash to plastic to metals and even human waste,” Pennsylvania Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) said.

Six months after receiving his diagnosis and five months after filing a cancer claim with the VA, Scott found out that they denied his cancer but accepted a sprained ankle. He is no longer here to appeal the claim, but his wife Michelle is, and she plans to.

“Stories like retired National Guard officer Scott Laird’s show us our work is far from done. That is why I am in the process of signing onto the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act of 2021, which would make it easier for veterans exposed to burn pits to get the benefits and treatment they need from the VA,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in a statement.

The legislation had a bright future two months ago when it passed both the U.S. House and Senate. However, a disagreement in the bill’s language brought up by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) means it needs to pass again.

Now on the bill’s second time around, 25 Republican senators joined Toomey, pulling their support, creating frustration among senators like Casey. 

“We’ve gotta provide them healthcare. If we don’t then what kind of a country are we? All we have to do in the Senate is put our hand up and say ‘yes,’ that is pretty (expletive) easy, put your (expletive) hand up!” said Casey.

Toomey says he has proposed a fix that would remove what he calls a “budget gimmick,” $400 billion in spending unrelated to veterans. 

Casey and his team want this bill passed this week.