VETERANS HELP GROUP
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the top ten pact act questions answered
President Joe Biden recently signed the PACT Act into law to help veterans affected by burn pit exposure secure the healthcare service they need. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the PACT Act.
1. when did the pact act become law?
The PACT Act became law on August 10, 2022, after it was passed by Congress. President Biden requested Congress to prioritize the bill and send it to his desk during his first State of the Union address.
2. why is the pact act important?
The PACT Act is also known as the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Health Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act. The PACT Act is important because it provides proper health care and additional benefits to veterans exposed to toxins on the battlefield during their active service.
The PACT Act becomes the most extensive healthcare and benefits plan undertaken by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The new law seeks to protect generations of veterans grappling with presumptive conditions after exposure to burn pit toxins by providing easy access to the healthcare services they need.
3. What changes will the pact act bring?
The PACT Act will bring five significant changes to the VA benefits and care, namely:
- Expanding and extending VA healthcare: The PACT Act will enable VA healthcare to cover veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras for toxic exposures.
- Twenty-three new toxic exposure presumptive disabilities: The veteran’s Pact Act will cover 13 respiratory illnesses and 11 types of cancers added to the “Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures” list.
- Expands Agent Orange and radiation locations: More presumptive-exposure sites for Agent Orange and radiation have been added to the VA healthcare coverage.
- Mandatory toxic exposure screen: Every veteran in the VA healthcare system will undergo mandatory screening for exposure to toxins.
- In-depth toxic exposure research: The PACT Act will prioritize research, staff education, and treatment options for toxic exposure conditions.
4. why are burn pits dangerous?
Burn pits are dangerous because the soldiers operating them breathe harmful and toxic fumes linked to short-term and long-term health effects. Burning waste in pits is far more toxic than using a commercial incinerator and is now linked to severe respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.
The military used burn pits to dispose of waste materials such as medical and human waste, ammunition and unexploded artillery, plastics, chemicals, Styrofoam, paint, and petroleum products.
The toxins in the burn pit fumes are carcinogenic and affect many body parts, including the eyes, skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and cardiovascular system, and other internal organs.
5. what are the conditions of burn pit exposure?
Burn pit exposure is associated with a myriad of health conditions including, but not limited to:
- Skin lesions
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Impaired central nervous system function
- Poor liver or kidney function
- Constrictive bronchiolitis
- Chronic bronchitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Cancer of the skin, respiratory system, or the stomach
- Throat infections
- Multiple sclerosis
6. How do i know if i have been exposed to burn pits?
Military members who served in operations where burn pits were extensively used to dispose of the waste are likely exposed to burn pits. If you suffer from or developed any of the health conditions listed above, it may have resulted from the toxic fumes from the burn pits.
Alert the treating physician to your exposure so they can document your diagnosed medical conditions and symptoms for VA healthcare. You’d need the documentation to claim the potential VA benefits.
You were likely to have been exposed to burn pits if you served in:
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn, Djibouti, Africa, on or after September 11, 2001
- Operation Desert Shield
- Operation Desert Storm
- Southwest Asia Theater on or before August 2, 1990
7. who is eligible to receive benefits for burn pit exposure?
The Department of Veteran Affairs has issued a detailed list of veterans eligible for the burn pit exposure benefits and coverage. You might be eligible for coverage if assigned to a duty station in the following countries during the listed time frame.
Under the new law, veterans from the military, air, naval, or space services assigned to specific duty stations are eligible for these benefits. These benefits are not limited to the boots on the ground. Veterans who served on the nearby waters or provided air services are also covered.
Veterans who served on or after August 2, 1990, in these countries are eligible for toxic exposure presumptive conditions:
- Saudi Arabis
- United Arab Emirates
You’re also eligible if you served in any of the following countries on or after September 11, 2001:
The Secretary of Defense may add any other country they deem relevant to this list.
8. what new presumptive conditions were added for burn pit exposure?
The Veteran PACT Act has added 13 respiratory illnesses and 13 types of cancer to the “Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures.” These added conditions include:
- Chronic OPD
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Constrictive or obliterative bronchiolitis
- Granulomatous disease
- Interstitial lung disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Chronic rhinitis
- Asthma conditions that developed and were diagnosed after qualifying service
11 Types of cancers
- Head cancers
- Neck cancers
- Respiratory cancers
- Gastrointestinal cancers
- Reproductive cancers
- Lymphoma cancers
- Lymphomatic cancers
- Kidney cancer
- Brain cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
The PACT Act is a massive win for veterans because it covers all types of cancers that may result from burn pit exposures. It now covers hundreds of cancers presumptively connected to a veteran’s active duty service.
9. where can i get more information on burn pits and the pact act?
The US Department of Veteran Affairs provides detailed information about burn pits and the PACT Act on its website. The VA website contains in-depth and accurate information about the new laws and how they affect veteran disability benefits.
10. how do i receive benefits for burn pit exposure?
If you suffer from a condition caused by burn pit exposure, you must prove the connection between your disability and active service. You must file a benefits application with the VA alongside the supporting evidence. Specifically, you must provide sufficient proof detailing the condition and prove that exposure to a burn pit caused the disease.
Like always, you must prove that your condition is service-connected to receive VA disability benefits. Filling a burn pit exposure claim with the VA can be a complex uphill battle. The Veterans Help Group can ensure you’re not alone in this journey. We are a group of advocates for veterans dedicated to helping veterans secure their disability benefits and other benefits they need to improve their quality of life and take care of their families. Contact us today to learn more!
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