HONORING OUR PACT TO AMERICA'S VETERANS

In August of 2022, Congress passed the Honoring Our PACT Act, which finally drew an association in law between burn pit exposure among veterans and certain ailments, including many cancers.

In Arizona, only 35,000 veterans have applied, of the estimated 500,000 eligible veterans in the state. I met with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough and Arizona veterans at American Legion Post 124 to spread the word

This law makes nearly 3.5 million veterans eligible right now for the care and benefits they have earned, instead of forcing them to go through an onerous process of proving that their illness was related to their service.

Since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law, VA has delivered more than $2.4 billion dollars in PACT Act benefits to veterans. Additionally, more than 665,000 veterans have applied for PACT Act-related benefits, more than 5 million veterans have received new toxic exposure screenings, and more than 287,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care.

How to Apply:

Go to http://va.gov/pact to begin or call 800-698-2411.

If you need any help or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office by calling us at (602) 956-2463 or open a case with us here. We’re here to help.

What is the PACT Act?

  • The new classification of 23 conditions as presumptive, which will decrease the paperwork and processing associated with these claims and will hasten the granting of relief. The PACT Act adds new presumptive conditions for radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War toxins, and burn pit exposures. These conditions include:

Asthma (diagnosed after service), Brain cancer, Chronic bronchitis, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Chronic rhinitis, Chronic sinusitis, Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, Emphysema, Gastrointestinal cancer of any type, Glioblastoma, Granulomatous disease, Head cancer of any type, High blood pressure (hypertension), Interstitial lung disease (ILD), Kidney cancer, Lymphomatic cancer of any type, Lymphoma of any type, Melanoma, Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), Neck cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Pleuritis, Pulmonary fibrosis, Reproductive cancer of any type, including cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar, Respiratory (breathing related) cancer of any type, Sarcoidosis

  • PACT Act-related claims that have been submitted by August 9, 2023 will be backdated to the date of the bill signing, meaning claims granted will be paid with an effective date of August 10, 2022.

  • Expands the period of time that post-9/11 veterans have to enroll in VA healthcare from 5 to 10 years for veterans discharged or released after October 1, 2013

  • Creates a one-year open enrollment period for veterans who already fall outside of the 10-year expanded window (defined as veterans discharged or released before October 1, 2013) from October 1, 2022, to October 1, 2023

  • Authorizes 31 new VA medical and research centers in 19 states

    • The 19 states: PA, GA, MD, LA, SC, TX, MN, NY, TN, MO, CO, KY, VA, NC, IN, FL, UT, WA, MA

Gulf War Era and Post-9/11 Era Eligibility

If a Veteran served in any of these locations and time periods, they are eligible for the new Gulf War-related presumptions. This includes the airspace above any of these locations:
On or After August 2, 1990: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
On or After September 11, 2001: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan, Yemen

New Radiation Presumptive Locations

If a Veteran was called to respond to one of the listed cleanup and response missions below, they may be eligible for radiation exposure presumptives under the PACT Act.

    • Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll January 1, 1977 – December 31, 1980
    • Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain  January 17, 1966 – March 31, 1967
    • Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland January 21, 1968 – September 25, 1968

Veterans who served in the following locations and time periods can enroll in VA health care NOW:

  • Republic of Vietnam (January 9, 1962 – May 7, 1975)

  • Thailand at any US or Royal Thai base (January 9, 1962 – June 30, 1976)

  • Guam or American Samoa or their territorial waters (January 9, 1962 – July 31, 1980)

  • Laos (December 1, 1965 – September 30, 1969)

  • Certain Provinces in Cambodia (April 16, 1969 – April 30, 1969)

  • Johnston Atoll or a ship that called there (January 1, 1972 – September 30, 1977) 

  • SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD OCTOBER 1, 2022 – OCTOBER 1, 2023

    • For Post-9/11 combat Veterans who separated or discharged between September 11, 2001 – October 1, 2013.

    • Enrollment is free, there are no annual costs, and care may be free as well.

Information on VSOs and other resources available to guide veterans through the general claims process can be found at: https://www.va.gov/disability/get-help-filing-claim/