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PACT ACT & Your VA Benefits

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The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans – and their survivors -exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. President Biden signed the PACT Act into law August 10, 2022.

The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. The act is named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson. SFC Robinson, a decorated combat medic, served in Iraq and Kosovo. He died from a rare form of lung cancer that his doctors thought caused by toxic exposure to burn pits in Iraq.

Because of this, Robinson’s wife and mother-in-law fought for new legislation that would provide healthcare to Veterans exposed to situations similar to Robinson’s. This legislation is the PACT Act.

According to a statement from The White House, the PACT Act is intended to help deliver more timely benefits and services to over 5 million Veterans—across all generations—who may have been harmed by toxic exposures while serving their country.

Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that the PACT Act will bring these changes:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation:
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
  • Helps VA improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

PRESUMPTIVE CONDITIONS 

A presumptive condition is a health condition that VA assumes to be connected to military service. If a condition is not presumptive, Veterans may have to prove that their service caused the condition in order to get a disability rating. If a condition is presumptive, Veterans do not have to prove that their service caused it.

Laws and regulations establish which conditions are presumptive. The PACT act expands the VA list of presumptive conditions by adding illnesses previously excluded. It also adds presumptive exposure locations. These changes affect Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 era Veteran

Gulf War era and Post-9/11 Era 

Cancers:

      • Brain cancer
      • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
      • Glioblastoma
      • Head cancer of any type
      • Kidney cancer
      • Lymphatic cancer of any type
      • Lymphoma of any type
      • Melanoma
      • Neck cancer
      • Pancreatic cancer
      • Reproductive cancer of any type
      • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

Illnesses:

      • Asthma diagnosed after service
      • Chronic bronchitis
      • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
      • Chronic rhinitis
      • Chronic sinusitis
      • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
      • Emphysema
      • Granulomatous disease
      • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
      • Pleuritis
      • Pulmonary fibrosis
      • Sarcoidosis

Presumptive Exposure Locations:

On or after September 11, 2001:

      • Afghanistan
      • Djibouti
      • Egypt
      • Jordan
      • Lebanon
      • Syria
      • Uzbekistan
      • Yemen
      • The airspace above any of these locations

On or after August 2, 1990:

      • Bahrain
      • Iraq
      • Kuwait
      • Oman
      • Qatar
      • Saudi Arabia
      • Somalia
      • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
      • The airspace above any of these locations
Veterans Today Archives

Vietnam Era Veterans

Agent Orange presumptive conditions:

      • High blood pressure (also called hypertension)
      • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

Agent Orange presumptive locations:

      • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976
      • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969
      • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
      • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 30, 1980
      • Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977

VETERANS’ SURVIVORS 

Veterans’ survivors may also be eligible for VA benefits based on the PACT Act. Each benefit has qualifying requirements. Potential benefits for survivors include:

GETTING HELP

In his statement on the signing of the PACT Act, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said:
“We at VA are ready to implement the PACT Act and deliver for toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors”.

Veterans and survivors can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits.

Be CAUTIOUS of people approaching you with offers to help! Scammers are already trying to take advantage of Veterans and their families with fraudulent offers. Learn more in this video from The SitREP

SOURCES

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). The PACT Act and your VA benefits. VA. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, August 10). Statement from VA Secretary Denis McDonough on the signing of the PACT Act. VA  https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5815#:~:text=Statement%20from%20VA%20Secretary%20Denis%20McDonough%20on%20the,suffering%20from%20more%20than%2020%20toxic%20exposure-related%20conditions.

The White House. (2022, August 2). PACT Act Delivers on President Biden’s Promise to American Veterans. [Fact Sheet]. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/02/fact-sheet-president-biden-issues-executive-order-at-the-first-meeting-of-the-task-force-on-reproductive-healthcare-access/

WTVG Staff. (2022, August 4). Burn pit exposure legislation named after Ohio veteran, family reacts to bill’s passage. 13abc. https://www.13abc.com/2022/08/04/burn-pit-exposure-legislation-named-after-ohio-veteran-family-reacts-bills-passage/

Comments(2)

  1. REPLY
    Neil Lichtman says

    The most valuable thing I can tell you is to never file a claim with the VA. You should go to your nearest VSO (Veterans Service Office- or officer) and get interviewed for all you AND your family have earned. It’s free and they do all the paperwork and filing and follow up. They know exactly what the adjudicators need to read in order to get you the most in care and benefits. To find your nearest VSO just go back to http://www.KnowAVet.org and click on the top right button “to find help”. When you put in your zip code your VSO will come up with contact information. Good luck.

  2. REPLY
    roger says

    I submitted a claim on 8/12/22 hypertension caused by Agent Orange 1968 USMC== got a smart azz reply back from the VA saying i had been denied previously & i needed to submit more evidence. I was denied rating from 1974,if they ever give me a rating we will have a party. 1974 -2022 =48 years of back pay.

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