What Is The PACT ACT?
The years-long fight in the US Legislature to secure funding for veterans harmed by exposure to toxic substances finally ended in 2022 with the signing of the PACT Act. The bipartisan action delivers on the Biden Administration’s promise to address the issue of toxic exposures and their ongoing impacts on veterans. The issue hits home for the president whose own son died of brain cancer, possibly linked to burn pit exposure during his term in Iraq.
Many veterans may be wondering, what is the PACT Act and how does it impact veterans and active service members in the U.S. now that’s been signed into action?
Understanding the PACT Act
The PACT Act is a VA expansion bill formally entitled The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act of 2022. The bill is named in honor of the late Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson of Ohio’s National Guard. Sergeant First Class Robinson died of a rare form of lung cancer that strikes only after prolonged exposure to a toxic substance. Robinson spent 3 months of his deployment to Iraq on daily guard duty only yards away from a burn pit. The act named in his honor is the largest healthcare expansion in the history of the VA.
One of the most critical components of the PACT Act is its expansion of presumptive conditions for toxic exposures.
What Are Presumptive Conditions?
VA disability ratings are contingent on a veteran’s ability to prove a connection between a disability and their time in the service. Some conditions require a great deal of investigation and paperwork to prove a connection. On the other hand, a presumptive condition is one that’s automatically recognized as connected to a veteran’s service and requires no investigation or proof that their service caused the condition.
The PACT Act added many conditions related to burn pit exposure to the VA’s list of presumptive conditions including the following:
- Brain cancer and head cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphoma and lymphatic cancers
- Pancreatic cancer
- Respiratory cancer
- Neck cancer
Many non-cancer illnesses also qualify as presumptive conditions under the PACT Act including:
- Post-service asthma
- Chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, and rhinitis
- Granulomatous disease
- Interstitial lung disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
The PACT Act and Justice for Camp Lejeune
The PACT Act’s expansion to the list of presumptive illnesses also greatly impacts veterans exposed to the toxic water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Veterans and their families stationed at the camp between 1953 and 1987 drank, cooked, and washed in dangerously contaminated water, now shown to cause many forms of cancer and neurological diseases in those exposed for 30 days or more. Together with the Justice for Camp Lejeune Act, which now allows veterans to make claims outside of North Carolina’s 3-year statute of limitations, veterans are finally able to achieve compensation and justice. Our Camp Lejeune water contamination attorneys work with Missouri and Arizona residents to understand their unique cases.
The presumptive illnesses associated with Camp Lejeune include:
- Adult Leukemia
- Myelodysplastic syndromes including aplastic anemia
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Liver cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
Veterans who’ve suffered from any of these presumptive illnesses automatically qualify for healthcare and financial compensation.
More Benefits of the PACT Act
The PACT Act of 2022 expands the list of presumptive exposure locations for Agent Orange for Vietnam veterans. It also expands enrollment periods, improves research, increases outreach and education programs, and provides testing for toxic exposure to all veterans. A skilled lawyer can help you understand your rights and benefits under the PACT Act of 2022.
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