Commends Arkansas Veteran for Relentless Advocacy
Jun 15 2022
WASHINGTON–– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, urged Senate passage of comprehensive legislation to deliver earned benefits for all generations of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service in our nation’s uniform.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 would deliver immediate access to health care for toxic-exposed veterans, direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to evaluate diseases for presumption of service connection and streamline the process for toxic-exposed veterans seeking disability compensation for their illnesses.
“This legislation is long overdue. We’ve heard the struggles of veterans and their families living with toxic exposure-related illnesses. We can end the hurdles they experience and save lives by passing this landmark legislation,” Boozman said in a speech on the Senate floor.
The legislation also includes a provision authored by Boozman to expand benefits to Vietnam War-era veterans who served on military bases in Thailand.
The VA accepts that herbicides were used along the perimeters of military bases in Thailand, but does not recognize the impact of the herbicides inside the perimeter. The current policy is unfair and has prevented veterans like Bill Rhodes of Mena, Arkansas from accessing benefits as a result of toxic exposure.
Boozman called Rhodes a “relentless advocate of toxic exposure benefits.”
Boozman also teamed up with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) to better prepare the VA to respond to the anticipated increase in claims following passage of this legislation with the introduction of the VA Workforce Improvement, Support, and Expansion (WISE) Act of 2022 last month.
This continues Boozman’s commitment to improving benefits and services for toxic-exposed veterans. Last week, President Biden signed into law the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act, legislation authored by the senator requiring the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.