Senator Held Events in Flint, Grand Rapids & Traverse City on How All Generations of Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits or Toxic Chemicals While Serving Can Apply for Benefits Through Historic PACT Act
DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) met with local veterans in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City last week to discuss new VA benefits now available to veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals during their service. Peters helped enact into law the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which delivered VA health care and benefits to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans – and their survivors – for the first time in our nation’s history. Peters was joined by local leaders in veteran services – as well as local veterans who were personally impacted by toxic-exposure during their service – to raise awareness that veterans can now apply for PACT Act-related benefits by filing a claim through the Veterans Administration (VA).
To file claims in order to apply for PACT Act-related benefits, veterans should call the Veterans Administration (VA) at 800-698-2411 or file a claim online for disability benefits and/or VA health care. For more information about the PACT Act, click here.
Anchor: U.S. Senator Gary Peters was in Grand Rapids today to highlight new benefits for veterans available under the PACT Act. Peters stopped by the American Legion Hall off-of Park Street this morning. Now the PACT Act, which was signed by President Biden back in August, supports veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals during their time in the service. Peters helped pass this bipartisan legislation that he says was long overdue.
Senator Peters: The American people need to constantly stand behind you, not just when you're overseas or wherever you may be serving for your country, but when you come home, that we continue to have your back.
Anchor: Peters added that he wants everyone to help spread the word that this application process is now open. Veterans can learn more about how to apply at VA.gov.
Anchor: Senator Gary Peters visited a Grand Traverse County American Legion Post to bring attention to a new bill that could benefit veterans. The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics or PACT Act provides health care and benefits to those who've been exposed to toxic chemicals or burn pits during their service.
Senator Peters: I want to just stress as important as this act is, and as good as I believe that it is, it's only good if people actually take advantage of it. So, please, check it out. If you know a veteran or someone in your family or others who have veterans in their families, please spread the word.
Anchor: Now anyone who's served in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietnam, and has been exposed to any toxic chemicals, is able to apply for those benefits.
“Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee today held a news conference at the Flint Public Library to raise awareness about the PACT Act, an expansion of VA health care benefits.”
“‘This legislation is going to impact lives in a very positive way. Over 3.5 million veterans in the United States (qualify). It’s a significant step forward to dealing with this issue,’ Peters said.”
“This law will also expedite the VA claims process by automatically presuming conditions are caused by service rather than giving veterans the burden of proving that.”
Anchor: Senator Gary Peters is highlighting new benefits for Michigan veterans who were exposed to burn pits and toxic chemicals during their service. Peters visited Grand Rapids today to highlight the new PACT Act, which stands for the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics. Peters says for the first time in history, veterans across the country can now apply for benefits. This includes all generations of toxic-exposed veterans and their survivors.
Senator Peters: The PACT Act, we've been working it on for some time. But we're just so happy that it is now passed, signed into law, and is a reality for veterans. We expect up to three-and-a-half million veterans across the country will now qualify for benefits that they have earned and deserve.
Anchor: Veterans can now file claims to apply for PACT Act-related benefits by calling the number you see on your screen right now… Peters says the VA will begin processing benefits in January.
Anchor: Senator Gary Peters and Congressman Dan Kildee, along with local veterans, talked about new VA benefits available to veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals during their service. Veterans in Michigan and across the country can now apply for benefits through the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics or PACT Act. Kevin Hensley with the Michigan chapter of Burn Pits 360 said this is a big win for veterans.
Local Veteran Kevin Hensley, Founder of Burn Pits 360 Michigan Chapter: We were told that we needed to go out and get systemic momentum. And now we have the systemic momentum of the veterans community. And what it means for veterans is that they finally get the opportunity to file those claims and get those benefits.
Anchor: Today, Senator Gary Peters stopped by the Boat and Canoe Club in Grand Rapids to highlight new VA benefits. The PACT Act was pushed through bipartisan legislation to help veterans who had toxic exposure in the Gulf War. Additionally, 23 other health conditions will also be covered under the PACT such as asthma, various cancers, chronic bronchitis, and more. In the meeting, Senator Peters emphasized that this is the most significant expansion of veteran benefits in history.
Senator Peters: One of the main features of the act is to allow veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who were exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits to have the ability to get benefits to deal with the ailments associated with that.
Anchor: New benefits are on the way to veterans and their families. Senator Gary Peters was at the American Legion Post 35 in Traverse City today highlighting the new law that will give VA health care and benefits to veterans exposed to burn pits and toxic chemicals during their service.
Senator Peters: This piece of legislation that has now passed and has been signed into law is perhaps one of the most significant veterans benefits bill to pass in several decades.
Charlevoix County Director of Veteran Affairs Joshua Galle: Thank you, Senator Peters, as well as other elected leaders, that have stood strong in passing this bill. For me it feels like forever, 14 years.
Senator Peters: The other part of this legislation that I think is so important is the fact that we are putting additional resources into the Veterans Administration to streamline the application process, the claims process.
Reporter: The mother of a local veteran who served in Afghanistan and was exposed to toxic chemicals spoke at today's event. In June, doctors found a tumor in her son's brain which has resulted in high medical bills and forced him out of work.
Lori Florip: This is why the PACT Act becoming law was so important because it will ensure all veterans exposed to the toxic substances can receive not only medical care through the VA, but also critical disability benefits needed by many veterans, like my son, who can no longer work.