On August 10, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Sgt. Heath Robinson First Prize to fulfill our commitment to addressing the Comprehensive Poisons Act (PACT Act). The PACT Act is one of the largest health care and benefit expansion programs in the history of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The PACT Act will help the VA provide generations of veterans and their survivors with the services they deserve.
What is the PACT Act?
The PACT Act expanded eligibility for VA health care for veterans exposed to toxic toxins in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the post-9/11 era. Convention Act:
- Added over 20 new assumptions for burn pits and other toxic exposures.
- Added more hypothetical exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation.
What is Toxic Exposure?
The term “toxic exposure” refers to a subset of military environmental exposures. Whether an exposure is “toxic” depends on four factors: the substance, the concentration of the exposure, the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, etc.), and the duration of the exposure. Veterans may have experienced several possible exposures or hazards during their military service:
- Chemicals: Herbicides (Agent Orange) used during the Vietnam War, burn pits and sulfur fires in Iraq, water supplies at Camp Lejeune at certain times, pesticides used in Operation Desert Storm, and exposure to depleted uranium and industrial solvents
- air pollutants: Burn pits, oil well fires and sulfur fires in Iraq.Other air pollutants may include exposure to the Atsugi (Japan) waste incinerator, or sand, dust, and very small fine particles or liquid droplets
- occupational hazard: Asbestos, industrial solvents, lead, radiation, vibration, noise, fuel, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and special paints used on military vehicles
- radiation: Exposure to nuclear weapons and testing, X-rays and/or depleted uranium
- war agent: Chemical weapons, Project 112/Shipboard Hazards and Defense (SHAD), herbicide testing and storage, and chemical experiments
What does the presumptive condition for toxic exposure mean?
The VA Disability Rating requires veterans with disabilities related to military service. In some cases, you may have to prove the connection to your service. But for other situations, the VA assumes your service caused your situation. These are called “presumptive conditions”.
The PACT Act includes new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures. To see a complete list of new presumptive conditions and presumptive exposure service locations, visit the PACT Act and Your VA Benefits at www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/.
For Veterans of the Vietnam Era
Vietnam Veterans who served in the following locations and time periods are eligible to apply for admission:
- From January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975 Republic of Vietnam
- Thailand at any US or Royal Thai base between 9 January 1962 and 30 June 1976
- Laos from December 1, 1965 to September 30, 1969
- Certain provinces of Cambodia between April 16, 1969 and April 30, 1969
- Guam or American Samoa (or its territorial waters) between 9 January 1962 and 31 July 1980
- Johnston Atoll (or ships docked there) between 1 January 1972 and 30 September 1977
For Gulf War Veterans
Gulf War veterans who served active duty in a theater after Operation Desert Storm may be eligible for VA health care. This also includes veterans who received the following awards or recognitions while serving during this period:
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- Service Special Expeditionary Medal
- Combat Era Specific Expeditionary Medal
- Certain Battle Expeditionary Medals
- Any other theater incentive established by federal statute or executive order.
For Post 9/11 Veterans
Post-9/11 Veterans who discharged before October 1, 2013 can enroll in VA Health Care during a special one-year enrollment period between October 1, 2022 and October 1, 2023. To qualify, one of the following conditions must be true:
- they served in a combat zone during the period of war following Operation Desert Storm, or
- They fought against hostile forces during the hostilities after 11 November 1998.
If you are interested in finding out if you are eligible for VA health care, contact a Truman VA Enrollment Specialist today at (573) 814-6535.