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Biden Signs The PACT Act That Benefits Toxic Exposed Veterans

cexposedveterans aug10 lt

President Joe Biden has signed the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. The PACT Act is the most significant expansion of benefits and services for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances in more than 30 years.

The legislation would comprehensively address toxic exposures that have impacted veterans, as well as their families and caregivers, and provide them with the health care and benefits they deserve.

Named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a decorated combat medic who died from a rare form of lung cancer, this historic legislation will help deliver more timely benefits and services to more than 5 million veterans across all generations who may have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving the country.

Robinson's wife Danielle was a guest of the First Lady at President Biden's first State of the Union address when he called on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures - like her husband - finally get the health care and benefits they deserve.

To ensure veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures, the PACT Act expands access to VA health care services for veterans exposed during their military service. For post-9/11 combat veterans, the bill extends the period of time they have to enroll in VA health care from five to ten years post-discharge. For those combat veterans who do not fall within that window, the bill also creates a one-year open enrollment period. These expansions mean that more veterans can enroll in VA health care without having to demonstrate a service connected disability.

The PACT Act codifies VA's new process for evaluating and determining presumption of exposure and service connection for various chronic conditions when the evidence of a military environmental exposure and the associated health risks are strong in the aggregate but hard to prove on an individual basis.

The legislation removes the need for certain veterans and their survivors to prove service connection if they are diagnosed with one of 23 specific conditions.

To better understand the impact of toxic exposures, the PACT Act requires VA to conduct new studies of veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War and analyses of post-9/11 veterans' health trends. The new law also directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to convene a new interagency working group to develop a five-year strategic plan on toxic exposure research.

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