With the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act gaining passage in Congress, millions of American veterans and affected civilians will be that much closer to financial compensation.
What is the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022?
The PACT Act is the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic-exposed veterans in more than 30 years.
How does PACT Act help Gulf War vets?
Veterans, especially Gulf War vets who served in recent conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, face new health concerns. Some diseases and injuries like asthma, cancer, and others take years to appear after military service!
Given these facts, Gulf War veterans may find it difficult to establish a clear link between their service and the ailments caused by military environmental exposures like burn pits – which is necessary for them to receive the health care they have earned.
What does the PACT Act do?
The PACT Act will help ensure that veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures. This will be done by expanding access to VA health care services for veterans who have been exposed to toxins during their military service.
The bill extends the period of time Post-9/11 veterans have to enroll in VA health care from 5 years to 10 years after they leave the military. If a veteran doesn’t fall within that window, they will have a one-year open enrollment period.
The new rules also enable more veterans to obtain VA health care without having to look for evidence and prove service connection for their disability. Many of these include Vietnam veterans stationed outside of Vietnam such as Thailand but were exposed to toxic herbicide agents like Agent Orange and more.
Why is the PACT Act a big deal?
The PACT Act makes it easier for millions of veterans with chronic conditions to get service connection. The act creates a new process for the VA to use when evaluating whether a veteran was exposed to a military environmental hazard and if that exposure led to the development of a chronic condition.
VA will be forced into an evidence-based, transparent approach which will allow the department to make quicker policy decisions on critical exposure concerns. This is thanks to the PACT Act which requires VA to commission an independent evaluation of this process as well as external input on the issues it will examine using this framework.
The new approach is based on facts and is subject to peer review. This innovative technique has already revolutionized how VA assesses environmental exposures and ensures that veterans gain access to the care they require.
New PACT Act of 2022 Presumptions
The bill eliminates the need for certain veterans and their families to show service connection if they are diagnosed with any of 23 specified ailments.
This significantly reduces the amount of documentation and testing that military veterans who are diagnosed with one of these diseases must complete before being eligible for health care and disability compensation, allowing them to receive those benefits more quickly.
Following is a list of 11 respiratory-related problems, as well as various types of cancer, including reproductive cancers, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and brain tumors such as glioblastoma. Survivors of veterans who died due to one of these diseases may be eligible for compensation now.
Will VA research new toxic exposures?
The PACT Act requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out additional research on veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War and analysis of post-9/11 veteran health trends. The new legislation also directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a new interagency working group to develop a five-year long-term plan for conducting research on toxic exposure.
Will VA notify toxic-exposed veterans about these new benefits and issues?
Thanks to the PACT Act, VA must now develop and implement an outreach program for veterans regarding toxic exposure-related benefits and services, as well as additional toxic exposure-related training for VA employees.
The PACT Act of 2022 also includes developing plans so veterans can get the help they require, such as ensuring that veterans are screened for toxic exposure and that VA employees have up-to-date training.
The PACT Act requires that veterans who participate in VA health care be examined for possible toxic exposure problems on a regular basis.
Is VA Healthcare Expanding because of PACT Act?
This bill also gives resources to VA so that it can provide timely access to services and benefits for all veterans who are eligible- including those who are already enrolled.
The PACT act also allows VA to improve the way it processes claims and hire more people. The bill also invests in VA health care facilities by authorizing 31 new clinics and research centers in 19 states.
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