Peters Statement on Honoring Our PACT Act Heading to President to Be Signed into Law
Historic Legislation Will Deliver Health Care and Benefits to All Generations of Toxic-Exposed Veterans
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on the Honoring Our PACT Act, which now heads to the President to be signed into law:
“We have a responsibility to ensure our veterans can access the health care, benefits, and support they have earned,” said Senator Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, son of a World War II veteran, and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This landmark legislation will ensure all generations of veterans, including post-9/11 combat veterans, that were exposed to harmful substances like Agent Orange and toxic burn pits in service are able to get the support they need through the VA. It was unconscionable that Senate Republicans previously blocked this long overdue bill, and now that it’s finally headed to the President, it’s important this becomes law quickly.”
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act will for the first time ensure all generations of veterans exposed to toxic substances can access essential services through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – including by:
- Expanding VA health care eligibility to post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans;
- Creating a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
- Adding 23 health conditions related to burn pit and toxic-exposure to the VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension;
- Expanding the list of locations officially recognized as being related to Agent Orange exposure from service (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll);
- Strengthening federal research on toxic exposure;
- Providing additional resources to ensure VA workforce and systems can withstand increased demand;
- Investing to improve VA claims processing, workforce, and health care facilities;
- Bolstering development of the VA’s workforce by increasing the limits of student loan repayment programs and streamlining the hiring process; and
- Passing the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, a bill Peters previously cosponsored, to allow servicemembers and military families to seek financial compensation for injuries or illnesses they suffered as a result of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina—an issue that has impacted some Michiganders.
The legislation is supported by major veterans’ organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Wounded Warrior Project, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
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