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What is the PACT Act?

On August 8, President Biden signed into law the PACT Act. This Act increases health care and benefits for veterans, specifically those exposed to burn pits and other toxic exposures. The Act applies to veterans who were exposed to toxins during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post 9/11 operations.  

The PACT Act – fully named The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act – is perhaps the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history. For some veterans it may offer new health care options, or even approval of disability claims that were previously denied.   

What’s new in the PACT Act? 

The Act expands eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post 9/11 operations. More specifically, the Act:  

  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures 
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation 
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care 

 

What is a presumptive condition for toxic exposure?  

For many health conditions, you need to prove that your military service caused your condition. A presumptive condition is different; due to the nature of your military service it is automatically assumed that your service caused the health condition. If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove that your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption.  

 

PACT Act expanded benefits for Gulf War and post-9/11 Veterans Twenty-four new burn pit and other toxic exposure presumptive conditions have been added for Gulf War and post-9/11 Veterans: 

Presumptive Cancers Added  Presumptive Illnesses Added 
Brain cancer  Asthma that was diagnosed after service 
Gastrointestinal cancer of any type  Chronic bronchitis 
Glioblastoma  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 
Head cancer of any type  Chronic rhinitis 
Kidney cancer  Chronic sinusitis 
Lymphatic cancer of any type  Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis 
Lymphoma of any type  Emphysema 
Melanoma  Granulomatous disease 
Neck cancer of any type  Interstitial lung disease (ILD) 
Pancreatic cancer  Pleuritis 
Reproductive cancer of any type  Pulmonary fibrosis 
Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type  Sarcoidosis 

If you have any of these health conditions, the PACT Act may offer you new health care options. But you must also meet the following location and time criteria for having presumptive exposure to burn pits.  

On or after September 11, 2001, in any of these locations:   On or after August 2, 1990, in any of these locations:  
Afghanistan  Bahrain 
Djibouti  Iraq 
Egypt  Kuwait 
Jordan  Oman 
Lebanon  Qatar 
Syria  Saudi Arabia 
Uzbekistan  Somalia 
Yemen  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) 
The airspace above any of these locations  The airspace above any of these locations 

 

Expanded health care for post-9/11 combat Veterans 

The PACT Act also extends and expands VA health care eligibility for post-9/11 veterans. Eligibility depends on your service history and other factors. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for detailed eligibility requirements. 

 

PACT Act expanded benefits for Vietnam era Veterans 

The PACT Act identifies two new Agent Orange presumptive conditions: 

  •  High blood pressure (also called hypertension) 
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) 

 

The Act also adds five new locations to the list of Agent Orange presumptive locations:  

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976 
  • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969 
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969 
  • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980 
  • Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977 

 

If you served on active duty in any of these locations during these time periods, you’re now eligible to apply for VA health care.  

New radiation presumptive locations for Vietnam Veterans 

Three new response efforts have been added to the list of presumptive locations: 

  • Cleanup of Enewatak Atoll for the years 1977 through 1980 
  • Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, through March 31, 1967 
  • Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland from January 1, 1968, to September 25, 1968 

 

How to file a PACT Act claim 

The PACT Act was signed into law on August 8, 2022. You can file a disability claim immediately. In addition, if you’re the surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who died from a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for a monthly compensation payment, a one-time accrued benefits payment, or a survivor’s pension.  

At Vets National Advocates, we use our knowledge to help disabled veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. Let us guide you toward a life that honors the sacrifices you have made for our nation. Contact us today for a free consultation using our online form or call 1 (877) 777-4021. 

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