Enrollment Open for Toxic Exposure Bill 

President Joe Biden recently signed the Honoring Our PACT Act into law which expands VA health care starting Oct. 1, 2022.

Men and women in military uniforms talking in a sunny room discussing VA health care starting Oct. 1

VA Health Care Enrollment Open for Veterans Exposed to Deadly Toxins

Thousands of Veterans are now eligible for health benefits for those affected by environmental exposures during their time served through VA health care starting Oct. 1. PACT Act HR 3967 extends coverage to those affected by toxic exposure such as deadly chemicals and carcinogens. This comes after the Honoring Our PACT Act failed in the Senate with a vote of 55-42 after it was originally passed in the House of Representatives. After the Senate made slight modifications to the bill, it traveled back to the House and then the Senate where it passed. After a tumultuous journey, President Biden signed the bill into law in August 2022. From Oct. 1 2022 to Oct. 1, 2023, Veterans and their dependents can apply for PACT Act benefits.Honoring Our PACT Act Enrollment Period

The PACT Act HR 3967 will expand the list of eligible Veterans, the list of presumptive illnesses, toxic exposure screening requirements, and much more. Veterans can apply for disabilities covered in the PACT Act by filing a VA Disability Compensation claim. Those approved to receive health benefits should expect compensation and care. Discover how the Honoring Our PACT Act expanding VA health care starting Oct. 1. could affect you and your loved ones.

Illnesses and Diseases Covered Under New VA Health Care Benefits Law

The Honoring Our PACT Act adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions regarding burn pits and other toxic exposures. The VA classifies a presumptive illness as a condition caused by military service. For example, many active service members were exposed to Agent Orange and later developed conditions such as lung cancer as a result. Presumptive illnesses added by the PACT Act include:

  • Post-service Asthma
  • Brain cancer
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Glioblastoma
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Head cancer
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Reproductive cancer
  • Respiratory cancer
  • Sarcoidosis

What Types of Veterans Were Most Affected?

The Honoring Our PACT Act expands VA health care starting Oct. 1 to Veterans exposed to toxins such as those in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and those that fought post-9/11. Veterans were exposed to toxins from burn pits, Agent Orange, and radiation throughout these eras. The Veterans Health Administration now extends benefits to those that were exposed to toxins.

Gulf War Era Veterans | August 2, 1990 – Present

Throughout the Gulf War, there were a variety of environmental and chemical hazards that carried potential health risks. Potential hazards to Veterans include:

  • Vaccinations
  • Oil Well Fires
  • Chemical & Biological Weapons
  • Depleted Uranium
  • Noise
  • CARC Paint
  • Occupational Hazards
  • Pyridostigmine Bromide (PB)
  • Pesticides
  • Sand, Dust, & Partiulates
  • Toxic Embedded Fragments
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Heat Injuries

For example, if you participated in burn pit activities during the Gulf War and now experience a presumptive condition, you may be eligible for VA Benefits under the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics. Benefits can help Veterans receive insurance, access better cancer treatment centers, and provide financial assistance.

Iraq War Veterans | March 19, 2003 – December 15, 2011

The Iraq War Era includes Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, according to the VA. Iraq War Veterans were exposed to a variety of environmental and chemical hazards. Veterans during this era may have been exposed to:

  • Sand, Dust, & Particulates
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Toxic Embedded Fragments
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Depleted Uranium
  • Noise
  • Rabies

Many Iraq War Veterans utilized burn pits which are open-air pits used to dispose of waste at military sites. If you participated in burn pits during your time in the Iraq War and developed a condition, you may be eligible for compensation. If you believe you were exposed or have a related illness, you can join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry and the Gulf War Registry. Additionally, if you worked in a shipyard or encountered shipyard materials during your time in the service, you may have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a harmful chemical that can lead to the development of mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Camp Lejeune Era Veterans | August 1953 – December 1987

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina exposed Veterans, family members, and townspeople to contaminated water. Trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, benzene, vinyl chloride, and other harmful compounds contaminated on-base water wells. If you or a family member drank water from Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River, you may be eligible for benefits.

Vietnam Era Veterans | November 1, 1965 – April 30, 1975

Many Vietnam Veterans were exposed to environmental and chemical hazards that carried potential health risks. Vietnam War exposures included:

  • Agent Orange
  • Other Herbicides
  • Liver Fluke Infection
  • Noise
  • Occupational Hazards

Wartime practices exposed many service members to herbicides allowing the VA to offer eligible Veterans a free Agent Orange Registry health exam to determine long-term related health problems. If you served in the Vietnam War and used Agent Orange or other herbicides to destroy foliage and crops, you may have an underlying health condition that is eligible for VA benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions About the PACT ACT

There are intricate differentiators within VA benefits that can be difficult to understand. Many Veterans and their survivors have questions regarding the newly passed PACT Act. Mesothelioma Vets is here to answer all your questions regarding VA benefits and covered conditions under the Honoring Our PACT Act.

How Long Do I Have to File for Benefits?

Veterans and their survivors can apply for VA health care starting Oct. 1, 2022, through October 1, 2023. The VA will begin processing PACT Act-related benefits in January 2023 as the funding needs approved by Congress and put in the system before they can process claims. However, the VA will backdate benefits to the date of the bill signing.

Will The PACT ACT Affect My VA Benefits and Care?

The PACT Act could affect your current benefits and care if you qualify. If you did not qualify for certain benefits before, you could now meet the requirements under the PACT Act. Additionally, more Veterans and their family members will receive updated and quicker benefits and health care. Under the PACT Act, you may be eligible for better treatment opportunities and other benefits.

Are There Any Conditions Not Covered Under the PACT ACT?

The VA does not cover presumptive conditions not included under the PACT Act. However, there are conditions covered by other VA presumptions. for example, the VA assumes responsibility for former prisoners of war, Atomic Veterans, among many others that are not included in the PACT Act.

Are Families Members Eligible for Benefits?

Surviving family members of Veterans may be eligible for VA health care starting Oct. 1. Family members may be eligible for a monthly VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) payment, a one-time accrued benefits payment, or a survivors pension. You may qualify for a VA DIC if you are the surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who died from a service-connected disability. You may qualify for a one-time accrued benefits payment if you are the surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent of a Veteran who the VA owes unpaid benefits at the time of their death. Additionally, you may qualify for a survivors pension if you are the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with wartime service.

Where Do I Apply?

Veterans and their dependents can file a claim through the VA. If you previously filed a claim and were denied, you can submit a Supplemental Claim to receive an updated review of your case. If you have not filed a claim for a presumptive condition, you can file a claim online, by mail, in person, or with the assistance of a professional. Mesothelioma Vets can assist with your application and guide you through the claim process.