Veterans Corner

 

 
 
  VETERANS CORNER

Overview of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act

Submitted By: Jeffery Mead

Susquehanna County Director of Veterans Affairs/Veterans Service Officer

 

On August 10th, 2022 the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act became law. The PACT Act is the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic exposed Veterans in more than 30 years.

The PACT Act expands access to VA health care services for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their military service. For post-9/11 combat Veterans, the bill extends the period of time they have to enroll in VA health care from five to ten years post-discharge. For those combat veterans who do not fall within that window, the bill also creates a one-year open enrollment period. These expansions mean that more Veterans can enroll in VA health care without having to demonstrate a service-connected disability. By January 2023, VA expects to have a fully operational call center and network of experts to help Veterans concerned about environmental exposure and provide consultative services to Veterans in primary care clinics. (www.whitehouse.gov)

The PACT Act removes the need for certain Veterans and their survivors to prove service connection if they are diagnosed with one of 23 specific conditions.  As of May, 2022, the VA recognizes the following Burn Pit Exposure Presumptive Conditions: Rhinitis, Sinusitis, Asthma, Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx, Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea, Adenocarcinoma of the trachea, Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea, Large cell carcinoma of the lung, Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung, Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung, Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lungProvided that symptoms developed within 10 years of a veteran’s service in a qualifying country where burn pits were in use, these conditions can qualify you for disability benefits.

The PACT ACT adds the following presumptives for burn pit /particulate matter exposure:

·         Reduced central nervous system function

·         Reduced liver or kidney function

·         Stomach, respiratory, or skin cancer

·         Breast cancer

·         Skin lesions

·         Leukemia

·         Chronic bronchitis

·         Cardiovascular conditions

·         Constrictive bronchiolitis

·         Autoimmune disorders

·         Crohn’s Disease

·         Infertility

·         Migraine Headaches

·         Throat infections

·         Eczema

·         Multiple sclerosis

The PACT Act will also:  Direct more resources to VA health care centers and hire more employees and claims processors to speed up paperwork, and fund more federal research on toxic exposure.  The Act expands presumptions for Veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical the U.S. military used during the Vietnam War. American Samoa, Cambodia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Laos and Thailand would all be added to the list of locations where Veterans are presumed to have been exposed to the chemical. (tuckerdisability.com via va.gov) Based on the PACT Act, the VA added 2 new Agent Orange presumptive conditions:

  • High blood pressure (also called hypertension)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

 

Part of the PACT Act is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act eliminates burdensome red tape to ensure that those exposed to toxic chemicals, including service members, Marine dependents, civil servants, and contractors, can receive their day in court.  (gregmurphy.house.gov)

NOTE: This is totally separate from a Veteran applying for VA compensation due to exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.  Any Veteran Service Officer can assist with applying for VA compensation at no charge to the Veteran or the Veteran can file a claim online through va.gov.  To be eligible for a presumptive service connection, Veterans must have served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and later developed one of the following eight conditions:

·         Adult leukemia

·         Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes

·         Bladder cancer

·         Kidney cancer

·         Liver cancer

·         Multiple myeloma

·         Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

·         Parkinson’s disease (va.gov)

At Veterans Affairs of Susquehanna County, we have two Veteran Service Officers who are here ready and willing to assist any Veterans who are seeking to file for VA Compensation for any of the presumptive conditions mentioned in this article.

Our office can be reached at the following:

P.O. Box 218 /31 Lake Avenue Montrose, PA 18801 (Courthouse-side entrance facing the green)

Phone: 570-278-5955 or 570-278-4600 Ext. 3045

Fax: 570-278-5977

Email: jmead@susqco.com or twilbur@susqco.com​

 

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