PACT Act Agreement in Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee
On May 18, members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) announced an agreement on the PACT Act of 2022, legislation that would deliver health care and benefits to all Veterans exposed to toxic environments.
The PACT Act
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 marks the first time in US history that such comprehensive health care legislation has moved forward.
“This bipartisan legislation is the most comprehensive toxic exposure package the Senate has ever delivered to veterans in this country’s history,” said Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Jon Tester (D-Montana) in a joint statement.
“For far too long, our nation’s veterans have been living with chronic illnesses as a result of exposures during their time in uniform. Today, we’re taking necessary steps to right this wrong with our proposal that’ll provide veterans and their families with the health care and benefits they have earned and deserve.”
According to the infographic from the SVAC, the PACT Act will deliver the following benefits to Veterans:
- Expansion of access to VA health care for toxic-exposed Veterans
- Expansion of the period of health care enhanced eligibility for Post-9/11 combat veterans
- Expands health care to more than 3.5 million veterans
- Adds 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s presumption list
- Creates a framework for the establishment of future toxic exposure-related presumptions of service connection
- Provides toxic exposure screening to all generations of veterans at VA medical appointments
- Bolsters toxic exposure-related education and training for VA health care and benefits personnel
- Establishes 31 new VA health care facilities in 19 states
VSO Support for the PACT Act
This announcement comes after months of staunch advocacy for the legislation from Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) like the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association (IAVA).
Today’s announcement from Senators Tester and Moran is a strong show of good faith to the veteran community,” announced Matthew Mihelcic, the VFW National Commander. “I applaud them on their work on the bill and I am encouraged to see both Democrats and Republicans coming together to make good on a promise to care for our veterans, service members, and their families, dealing with the costs of war.”
The American Legion National Commander, Paul Dillard, said in a statement that, “The Honoring Our PACT Act would deliver needed benefits for up to 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to the poisons of war due to the prevalence of burn pits, radiation, contaminated water, Agent Orange and other toxicants during deployments and military assignments…I am asking all Americans to tell their senators to vote for the Honoring Our PACT Act.”
The PACT Act hasn’t passed yet, as the agreement was made between the ranking members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. From here, the legislation will come to the Senate floor for a vote. If approved, it will move to the President’s desk for approval after a final review by the House of Representatives.
While there is no set timeline yet, many are hopeful that the PACT Act will become law before summer is in full swing.
Stay tuned for updates!