Veterans affected by toxic substance exposure can seek extended care and benefits
Sen. Tom Carper wants veterans to take advantage of the healthcare and funding available to those exposed to toxic substances while serving.
Carper spent Monday talking up the PACT Act of 2022. It builds on the 1991 Agent Orange Act, which aimed to address a limited number of diseases and conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War.
The PACT Act expands and extends eligibility for VA health care to veterans with confirmed or presumed toxic exposures during the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and post-9/11 military service.
Carper - the lone remaining Vietnam vet serving in the Senate - says this legislation was needed.
“There are about 3.5 million veterans who are now going to have access to healthcare. They won’t all have had exposure. And they won’t all need the same kind of healthcare that you need for a burn pit victim. But if they do, they’re going to get that help,” Carper emphasized. “We want to make sure that the veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan that were exposed to burn pits get the help that they need. And if their family members were adversely affected, we want to make sure they can get the help they need, too.”
President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act on August 10th, 2022.
Lillie Nuble - Director of the Philadelphia and Wilmington Regional Offices of Veterans Affairs - says that date is significant.
“It’s very important that a veteran either files a claim, or an intent to file, right now, before August the 10th of this year. So that we, if benefits are awarded, can go back retroactively to grant those benefits backdated from August 10th, 2022,” explained Nuble.
Veterans and survivors can continue to file claims through the PACT Act after August 10th, 2023, but they will no longer be eligible to receive the 12 months of backdated compensation.
The goal of the PACT Act is to make it easier for those affected by toxic exposure, and their families, to access healthcare and benefits.
It adds over 20 additional presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures, more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation, and provides a toxic exposure screening to every veteran enrolled in VA health care.
Veterans and survivors can visit VA.gov/PACTAct to learn more, and file a claim.