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Sunday, April 14, 2024

VA PACT Act

On August 10, 2022, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Ad­dress Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was signed into law. Possibly the most comprehensive Veterans legislation ever passed. The PACT Act expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic ex­posures and Veterans of the Vietnam era, Gulf War Era, and Post-9/11 era. It provides for toxic exposure screening and follow-up screenings for Veterans enrolled in VA health care. There are provisions to ensure VA staff is provided toxic exposure-related training. Among other things, it authorizes 31 new medical facilities to provide for greater access to VA health care.

The PACT also expands eligibility for bene­fits for all Veterans exposed to toxic substances. These hazards or exposure include air pollutants (burn pits), chemicals (Agent Orange, Camp Le­jeune water), radiation (depleted uranium), war­fare agents (mustard gas), and occupational (as­bestos, fuels, solvents). The benefits expansion also includes new geographical areas for both Vietnam War era and Gulf/Post-9/11 War era. New presumptive conditions are included which affect Veterans that served in the previously men­tioned times and locations.

If you served in any of the following locations and time periods, then the VA concedes presump­tive exposure to burn pits and other toxins. On or after August 2, 1990, in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, The Unit­ed Arab Emirates (UAE), and the airspace above any of these locations. On or after September 11, 2001, in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and the air­space above any of these locations.

If you served in any of the following locations and time periods, then the VA concedes presump­tive exposure to Agent Orange (herbicides). The Republic of Vietnam or aboard vessel not more than 12 nautical miles from Vietnam and Cam­bodia 01/09/1962 to 05/07/1975; any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand 01/09/1962 to 06/30/1976; Laos 12/01/1965 to 09/30/1969; Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province 04/16/1969 to 04/30/1969; Guam or American Samoa or territorial waters off of either 01/09/1962 to 07/30/1980; or Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll 01/01/1972 to 09/30/1977.

There’s no deadline to apply for PACT Act ben­efits. But if you file your PACT Act claim—or quickly submit your intent to file—by August 9, 2023, you may receive benefits backdated to Au­gust 10, 2022. So don’t wait, apply today.

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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