Nov 28, 2022

PACT Act means more health benefits for Veterans

Posted Nov 28, 2022 4:31 PM

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Veterans who may have been denied service-connected benefits before need to apply again after the passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act of 2022, also known as the PACT Act back in August.

"The PACT Act is really probably the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history," said VBA Regional Office Director Donna Meyer-Hickel. "It expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances."

Because of the expansion of benefit dates and exposure opportunities that are now considered qualifying for VA assistance, any Veterans from Vietnam forward should consider reapplication.

"Because this is going to be such a massive expansion, we're going to have to phase in hospital care, medical services and other care gradually, over time for three different categories of Veterans," said spokesperson Jeff Herndon. "Category one is Veterans who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity while serving on active duty, during training, or even inactive duty training. Category two is Veterans who were assigned to a duty station in certain locations during specific periods of time. There's a lot of information, a lot of locations, a lot of dates. That is on or after August 2, 1990, running up through September 11, 2001. Category three is going to be Veterans who deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Freedom Sentinel, Iraqi Freedom and a few others, as well. It's critical that Veterans visit and apply for health care as quickly as possible."

If you're not internet savvy, you can still take your DD-214 and this past year's tax return to any VA clinic to sign up, or there is a special event coming up next month in Wichita.

"You do not have to pay anybody to file for your health care," Herndon said. "You do not have to pay anybody to file a disability claim. Come see us December 10, Saturday. Down at the medical center in Wichita, in our auditorium, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., we're going to have a one stop shop for Veterans to come in and handle PACT Act related issues. If you're already enrolled for VA health care, you'll have an opportunity to get your toxic exposure screening. We'll have some education classes going on to learn more about the PACT Act. We'll have plenty of people there to assist with disability claims and we'll be able to enroll you for health care, if you're not enrolled already."

The passage of the PACT Act helps VA improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures.