Honoring our Promise to Toxic-Exposed Veterans
Last Congress, Chairman Takano led the monumental effort to finally Pass The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to grant benefits to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their service off the coast of Vietnam – but it took more than forty years. Earlier this year, Chairman Takano announced that he will prioritize toxic exposure and committed to moving comprehensive legislation forward with his Honoring our PACT Act.
Everyday, more and more veterans speak out about exposure to environmental hazards and other toxic substances during military service like:
- Contaminated water at military bases from PFAS and other toxins,
- Airborne hazards from burn pits and other sources while serving abroad, or
- Radiation from atomic testing and cleanups.
Health impacts vary from unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses to cancers, birth defects, infertility, and respiratory conditions.
Here is what the Committee has done so far this Congress to address toxic exposure:
Prioritize: Chairman Takano announced addressing toxic exposure as a top priority for the 117th Congress. Hear from Committee members about why we need to act now to care for those who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances during their service.
Educate: Click here to learn more about toxic exposure and click below to hear directly from Air Force veterans MSgt. Brian Graves and Lt. Col. Nate Brauner about their experiences living with the effects of toxic exposure.
Legislate: Chairman Takano introduced the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 – or the Honoring our PACT Act – based off 15 proposals from Members on both sides of the aisle. Click below to watch the press conference introducing the Honoring our PACT Act! (Update: The Honoring our PACT Act passed the House on March 3, 2022)
When we send our servicemembers into harm’s way, we commit to caring for them – and paying for that care – when they come home. It’s time we honor our pact and ensure all veterans exposed to toxic substances can get the care and benefits they’ve earned.
What will the Honoring our PACT Act do?
Chairman Takano’s comprehensive bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act will:
- Provide Priority Group 6 health care for certain toxic exposed veterans
- Streamline VA’s review process for establishing toxic exposure presumptions
- Concede exposure to airborne hazards/burn pits based on locations & dates of service
- Require medical exams/opinions for certain veterans with toxic exposure disability claims
- Add hypertension and MGUS to the list of presumptions for Agent Orange exposure
- Establish a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to burn pits/airborne hazards exposure
- Create a presumption of exposure to radiation for veterans who participated in cleanup activities in Palomares, Spain and Enewetak Atoll
- Expand agent orange exposure to veterans who served in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia
- Improve data collection between VA and the Department of Defense
- Commission studies related to incidents of cancer among veterans, health trends of Post 9/11 veterans and feasibility of providing healthcare to dependents of veterans
- Require VA provide standardized training to improve toxic exposure claims adjudications
- Require VA conduct outreach and provide resources to toxic exposed veterans
Click below to learn more about the Honoring our PACT Act!