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Peters Announces Local Veteran and Advocate as Guest for 2023 State of the Union

Peters, Hensley to Highlight How the Honoring Our PACT Act Supports Toxic-Exposed Veterans by Delivering VA Health Care and Benefits for First Time in Our Nation’s History

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that Kevin Hensley — an Air Force veteran, BurnPit360 Advocate and Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Committee Member, State of Michigan — will be his guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address Tuesday, February 7. Peters and Hensley will highlight the 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 – while Hensley advocated for the law’s passage on Capitol Hill. The PACT Act will deliver VA health care and benefits to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans — and their survivors — for the first time in our nation’s history.

“Kevin Hensley is a hero whose story of service and sacrifice is inspiring and worthy of recognition. Many of our nation’s veterans, including Kevin, are suffering as a result of being exposed to harmful substances like Agent Orange or toxic burn pits during their service,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “I was proud to help pass the Honoring Our PACT Act into law to finally ensure these veterans, along with their survivors, can obtain their long-overdue health care and benefits through the VA – and I’m honored Kevin will join me to help spread the word about how veterans can now apply to receive those benefits by visiting the VA’s website.” 

“We are family by tragedy, advocating for triumph,” said Kevin Hensley. “That’s the motto my fellow veterans and I, along with our families and loved ones, carried with us through the halls of Congress as we advocated for the passage of PACT Act and proudly saw it signed into law – all while battling the impacts of toxic exposure during our service. I’m honored to join Senator Peters for this year’s State of the Union to raise awareness about the PACT Act and bring with me the memory and strength of those I’ve been fortunate enough to serve and advocate alongside. I join the Senator’s call for Michigan veterans to apply for the benefits they have earned because a promise made is a promise kept.”

Kevin Hensley, of Trenton, Michigan, served in the United States Air Force for 20 years as a Security Forces NCO. While serving in the Air Force, Hensley operated open air burn pits during four of his eight deployments to the Middle East. In 2017, Hensley was diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis, a terminal lung disease that requires him to wear a portable oxygen concentrator to assist his breathing. Hensley has worked with the VFW to advocate for the passing of the PACT Act and worked with notable supporters, including comedian and veterans advocate Jon Stewart. Following the passage of the PACT Act, Peters and Hensley participated in a press conference in Flint to raise awareness of the new law and encourage veterans to apply for benefits they have earned.