BREAKING: Senate Advances Boozman-Backed Legislation to Expand Health Care for Post-9/11 Toxic-Exposed Veterans
Feb 16 2022
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, landmark legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to help meet the needs of veterans suffering from conditions caused by toxic exposure.
“Senate passage of the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act is an important milestone to ensure veterans receive the care and benefits they earned. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when we work together. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to follow the example of the Senate and pass this legislation so we can deliver the specialized care veterans exposed to burn pits deserve,” said Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Approximately 3.5 million Post-9/11 combat veterans may have experienced some level of exposure to burn pits during their service—many of whom are living with undiagnosed illnesses linked to military toxic exposures—and nearly one-third of those veterans are currently unable to access Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care. Among its many provisions, the bipartisan Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act would:
- Expand the period of health care eligibility for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001 from five years following discharge to ten years;
- Provide a one-year open enrollment period for any Post-9/11 combat veterans who are outside their 10-year window;
- Establish an outreach plan to contact veterans who did not enroll during their initial period of enhanced eligibility;
- Direct VA to incorporate a clinical screening regarding a veteran’s potential exposures and symptoms commonly associated with toxic substances;
- Mandate toxic exposure related education and training for health care and benefits personnel at VA; and
- Strengthen federal research on toxic exposures.
The legislation also requires the VA to conduct a study determining trends in different cancers within the veteran community. This study will build off Boozman’s provision in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act to examine incidences of breast cancer among active duty servicemembers.
The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act has widespread support among the nation’s leading Veterans Service Organizations.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously advanced the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act in early February.