Thursday, July 18, 2024
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PACT Act – Vietnam Era Veterans

Thank you for tuning in once again this week for the next episode of the PACT Act. Please grab your secret decoder ring as I share infor­mation affecting Vietnam-era Veterans. My obligatory disclaimer that my articles are merely summaries of the benefits and services available, as I have limited space and time to present the information. The VA website is always a great reference for additional detail. www.va.gov/re­sources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/

VA acknowledges exposure to Agent Orange (AO) when certain criteria are met. A presump­tive condition is when VA concedes an illness is caused by AO exposure. There are several cancers and other illnesses defined by VA as AO presumptive diseases or conditions. The PACT Act adds high blood pressure (hypertension) and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined sig­nificance (MGUS) to the list of AO presumptive conditions.

Eligibility for AO presumptives typically re­quired service in the Republic of Vietnam or aboard vessel not more than 12 nautical miles from Vietnam and Cambodia. The presumptive locations have now been expanded and include: any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976; Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969; Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969; Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 30, 1980; or Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977. If you served on active duty in any of these locations, VA automatically as­sumes (or “presumes”) that you had exposure to Agent Orange.

Before the stampede begins and your CVSO must work round-the-clock, please hear this. You may file a new disability claim for presumptive conditions at any time, and VA encourages you to do so. VA will not start processing PACT Act-related benefits until January 2023 when fund­ing becomes available. VA has indicated that any PACT Act claims submitted within one year will be backdated (retroactive back pay) to August 10, 2022, when the bill was signed into law. Please exercise an unprecedented level of patience as your CVSO prepares for the horde while simul­taneously learning the new law and regulations.

Brad Anderson is the Lake County Veterans Ser­vice Officer and can be reached at 218.834.8326, or cvso@co.lake.mn.us

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Vet­erans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us 

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