After watching many of their comrades fall ill, Veterans spent years demanding healthcare for toxic exposure. Recently, the bipartisan “Burn Pits Bill” was finally signed into law. Here are a few things you need to know about it, and how it impacts your benefits. Pass this information on to your friends and family who served.
- The full name is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
- It adds over 20 new presumptive conditions for illnesses related to burn pits and other toxic exposures.
- It requires VA to offer toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care.
- It expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras Veterans who are suffering from toxic exposure.
- Some Veterans must enroll between October 1, 2022, and October 1, 2023.
Gulf War and post-9/11 era eligibility
According to the VA, if you meet the prerequisites, “...you can get free VA health care for any condition related to your service for up to 10 years from the date of your most recent discharge or separation.”
The VA encourages you to apply, regardless of your separation dates. However, the majority of the Act is targeted towards those who separated after October 1, 2013.
However, if you were discharged before October 1, 2013, you must enroll between October 1, 2022, and October 1, 2023.
You may be eligible for the program if you served in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan, Yemen, or the airspace above any of these locations, on or after September 11, 2001.
You may also be eligible if you served in Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), or the airspace above any of these locations, on or after August 2, 1990.
Vietnam era Veterans
Added presumption of exposure to radiation at these locations:
- Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll.
- Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain.
- Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland.
Added presumption of Agent orange
- Several new locations were added.
- New conditions added.
Much more information about this, and many other aspects of the PACT Act can be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs website, by clicking here.