Aug 02 2022
WASHINGTON–– Landmark legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to deliver all eras of toxic-exposed veterans their earned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits is headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“We are one step closer to fulfilling the promise made to the men and women who wore our nation’s uniform. For too long, veterans living with illnesses as a result of their service have been denied the care they deserve. This comprehensive legislation passed by Congress ensures toxic-exposed veterans who need help now can get it. I urge the president to quickly sign it into law,” Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 will:
- Expand VA health care eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans;
- Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
- Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions;
- Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure;
o Includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
- Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure;
- Improve VA’s resources for toxic-exposed veterans and training for VA health care and benefits professionals; and
- Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in:
o VA claims processing;
o VA’s workforce; and
o VA health care facilities.
Boozman has been a relentless advocate for this legislation at every step of the process.
He authored a provision to expand benefits to Vietnam War-era veterans who served on military bases in Thailand after learning from an Arkansas veteran who developed illnesses related to Agent Orange exposure the VA doesn’t recognize the impact of herbicides inside base perimeters.
He delivered remarks on the Senate floor in June urging his colleagues to support this historic legislation.
This is the latest successful push by the senator to ensure toxic-exposed veterans get the benefits they earned.
In June, 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.