It is estimated that 3.5 million Veterans should be eligible for VA Health Care due to service-connected exposure to toxic substances. And yet, the VA approval rate of these disability and health claims is as low as 5%. The Honoring Our PACT Act, which recently passed the House with bipartisan support, would ensure our SOF Veterans will receive the care they earned.
Today, SOAA, alongside over 60 Veteran Service Organizations, called upon the Senate to unanimously support this dearly needed legislation that would begin saving the lives of sick and disabled Veterans exposed to toxic substances while in the line of duty. We have frequently brought to attention the high rate of rare cancers and other illnesses caused by toxic exposure, like burn pits, in the SOF community, and are proud to support the Honoring Our PACT Act, which is a truly comprehensive response to the need of our Veterans.
The Honoring Our PACT Act would:
- Grant VA health care enrollment eligibility to any Veteran who suffered toxic exposures while in service, regardless of their service-connected disability claim status;
- Create a list of presumptive disabilities for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances;
- Concede exposure to burn pits and other airborne hazards for Veterans who served in areas where they were known to be used;
- Ensure VA adopts a framework to establish new presumptive disabilities for all exposures in a timely manner, based on scientific data;
- Develop a training module to ensure VA providers and benefits personnel are able to properly identify, treat, and assess the impact of illnesses related to toxic exposure; and,
- Require a toxic exposure questionnaire at the beginning of every VA primary care appointment.
Read our Letter.