The US Senate Passes A Law Assisting Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits And Harmful Toxins
In a final vote of 86-11 on Tuesday night, the US Senate passed the PACT Act, with President Joe Biden expected to sign it into law. This act will increase health care benefits for millions of veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances during their time in the military.
While the bill was initially approved in June, it required a second vote due to a technical error. This delay triggered last-minute changes by 26 Republican senators, who tried to block the bill from moving forward. This new opposition to the bill created a massive backlash, causing veterans groups and advocates to demonstrate outside Capitol Hill for days until it finally passed.
What Is The PACT Act And What Will It Do?
The PACT Act will be one of the most significant VA health care and benefits reforms in decades, and it’s expected to cost the government approximately $280 billion over the next 10 years. Over 3 million veterans will qualify for VA benefits, including those who served in the Gulf War, Vietnam War, and all post-9/11 wars.
The military used burn pits as a way to eliminate waste quickly. However, this waste disposal method had serious health consequences for the victims, especially those who suffered long-term exposure. Despite their condition, roughly 7 out of 10 veterans who suffered casualties from military burn pits would have difficulties getting their VA benefits approved.
With the new law, victims of burn pits and other toxic exposures can now qualify under 20 additional presumptive conditions. Furthermore, it also orders the VA to assume that certain respiratory diseases and cancers are associated with burn pit exposure, allowing veterans to claim benefits without proving a specific link between their medical condition and service. Part of the PACT Act’s funding will also go to further research, education, and treatment associated with toxic exposures.
What The New Law Means For Veterans
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claims that veterans can finally receive fair treatment because “all kinds of legal barriers and presumptions will now be gone.” Before PACT Act was passed, millions of veterans would go each year without receiving appropriate benefits. The VA would have denied most of these claims due to a lack of evidence, and this left many at-risk victims without receiving the help they needed. By passing this law, their rights to VA benefits are guaranteed going forward.
Our Veterans Disability Attorneys Are Here To Help
If you’re a veteran who needs help applying for VA benefits, our New York attorneys will guide you through the entire process. Call us at 855-208-7783 or use our contact form if you have any questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have offices in Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and more.