The Honoring our PACT Act Provides One of the Largest U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare and Benefit Expansions in History
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger is highlighting the new benefits available to Virginia Veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their U.S. military service. The Honoring our PACT Act was signed into law last month by President Joe Biden and will provide generations of Virginia Veterans — as well as their family members — with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care they deserve.
Spanberger — who voted to pass the bipartisan bill — released a new video explaining how the Honoring Our PACT Act expands VA healthcare and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances, as well as Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
“The men and women of our armed forces put their lives and health on the line to protect their fellow Americans,” said Spanberger. “Through their selfless service to our country, many of our service members were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. For decades, our nation’s toxic-exposed Veterans and Veterans advocates have fought to make sure that these heroes get the same level of care as everyone else who puts on the uniform. With this legislation — now law — we are making decades-overdue progress to help the VA fulfill its promise to care for all Virginia Veterans who have borne the battle.”
Since this legislation was signed into law, post-9/11 combat Veterans:
- Discharged or released on or after October 1, 2013 are now eligible to receive VA healthcare for any condition related to their service for up to 10 years from the date of their most recent discharge or separation
- Discharged or released between September 11, 2001 and October 1, 2013 and who have never enrolled in VA healthcare can take advantage of a one-year special enrollment period from October 1, 2022 to October 1, 2023
If they meet either of the following requirements:
- Served in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War
- Served in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998
The Honoring Our PACT Act also adds 23 conditions to the list of presumptive service-connected conditions due to burn pits and other toxic exposure for Gulf War era and post-9/11 Veterans. This means that Veterans who have these conditions will no longer need to prove that their service caused their condition. Additionally, this law adds more locations for presumed exposure to burn pits to allow a greater number of toxic-exposed Veterans to receive disability compensation.
This law also adds the presumptive conditions of high blood pressure — or hypertension — and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) to the list of presumptive conditions, five additional locations for presumptive exposure to Agent Orange, and three additional locations for presumptive radiation exposure for Vietnam era Veterans. The law additionally requires the VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran.
Additionally, the Honoring Our PACT Act expands the benefits available to surviving family members of a Veteran. Click here for a list of those services.
Click here to read more about how the Honoring Our PACT Act extends benefits for toxic-exposed Veterans. Click here for a full summary of VA benefits for which millions more Veterans are now eligible.
The VA will begin to process benefits related to the Honoring Our PACT Act in January 2023.