A sweeping new measure crafted by Washington lawmakers will expand eligibility for health care and benefits for millions of veterans exposed to open-air burn pits and other toxins. The “Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act”, or PACT Act of 2022 is intended to provide an easier path to health care for veterans who served near open-air burn pits.
The burn pits were used throughout the 1990s and the post-9/11 wars to burn garbage, toxic waste, jet fuel and other materials. Thousands of U.S. veterans have maintained that exposure to the toxic fumes has been the cause of cancer and respiratory illnesses at an early age. However, for years the VA has taken the position that there wasn’t adequate evidence to support their claims.
The bill also aims to improve claims processing, will expand health care eligibility to post-9/11 combat veterans, and add 23 conditions to the VA’s list of service presumptions related to exposure to burn pits and other toxins. It will also strengthen federal research on toxic exposure and expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure to include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll.