The PACT Act

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Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics or the PACT act, signed recently into law, is a bill that addresses healthcare, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters associated with veterans that were exposed to toxic substances through military service. 

The PACT Act,

  • Increases and extends eligibility for VA health care for veterans that were exposed to toxic exposure through these areas, Vietnam, Gulf War, and Post-9/11.
    • Ensure veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures, the PACT Act expands access to VA health care services for veterans exposed during military services.
    • Post-9/11 combat veterans, the bill extends the period they must enroll in VA health care from five to ten years post-discharge.
    • For those combat veterans who do not fall within that window the bill also creates a one-year open enrollment period.
  • Adds new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures.
    • The legislation removes the need for certain veterans and their survivors to prove service connection if they are diagnosed with one of the 23 conditions. 
  • Adds new locations for presumptive conditions
  • Helps improve research, staff education, and treatment to toxic exposures. 
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Vietnam Era Eligibility

Veterans that served in the following locations and time periods are also now eligible to enroll in VA health care:

  • Republic of Vietnam: January 9, 1962-May 7, 1975.

  • In Thailand at any US or Royal Thai Base: January 9, 1962-June 30, 1976.

  • Laos: December 1, 1965-September 10, 1969.

  • Cambodia (Mimot or Krek Kampong Cham Province): April 16, 1969-April 30, 1969.

  • Guam or America Samoa (or territorial waters thereof): January 9, 1962-Septemeber 30, 1977.

  • Johnston Atoll (or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll): January 1, 1971-September 30, 1977. 

Veterans that participated in the following are also now eligible to enroll in VA health care:

  • The cleanup of the Enewetak Atoll: January 1, 1977-December 13, 1980.

  • Response effort of the collision of a United States Air Force B-52 bomber and refueling plane that caused the release of 4 thermonuclear weapons in the vicinity of Palomares, Spain: January 17, 1966-March 31, 1967.

  • Response effort to the on-board fire and crash of a United States Air Force B-52 bomber that released four thermonuclear weapons close to Thule Air Force Base, Greenland: January 21, 1968-September 25, 1968. 

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Expansion of Gulf War Veteran Definition

Veterans that served in the following locations during the Gulf War Era are also now eligible to enroll in VA health care:

  • Afghanistan
  • Jordan
  • Israel
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Syria

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Expansion of Presumption Conditions

Veterans are now eligible for hospital care (including mental health services and counseling), medical services, and nursing home care.

Gulf War and Post-9/11 Veterans,

  • Asthma diagnosed after service

  • Brain Cancer 

  • Chronic Bronchitis

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  • Chronic Rhinitis 

  • Chronic Sinusitis

  • Constrictive Bronchiolitis or Obliterative Bronchiolitis

  • Emphysema

  • Gastrointestinal Cancer of any type

  • Glioblastoma

  • Granulomatous disease

  • Head Cancer of any type

  • Interstitial Lung disease

  • Kidney Cancer

  • Lymphatic Cancer of any type

  • Lymphoma of any type

  • Melanoma

  • Neck Cancer

  • Pancreatic Cancer

  • Pleuritis 

  • Pulmonary Fibrosis

  • Reproductive Cancer of any type

  • Respiratory Cancer of any type

  • Sarcoidosis 

Vietnam Veterans

  • Monoclonal Gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

  • High Blood Pressure (also known as hypertension) 

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Expansion of VA Health Care Eligibility

Veterans that fit any of these descriptions are not eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for any illness. 

Category 1: Veterans are those who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity, as defined by law, while serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. 

Category 2: Veterans who were assigned to a duty station (including airspace above),

  • On or after August 2, 1990: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, or the United Arab Emirates.

  • On or after September 11, 2001: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, or any other country determined relevant by the VA. 

Category 3: Veterans that were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Resolute Support Mission. 

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Schedule for VA Health Care Eligibility

Veterans who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998, and who were discharged between September 11, 2001, and October 1, 2013 are eligible between October 1, 2022, and October 1, 2023. 

Veterans as defined in Categories 1 and 2 are eligible beginning,

  • October 1, 2024: Veterans who were discharged or released between August 2, 1990, and September 11, 2001. 
  • October 1, 2026: Veterans who were discharged or released between September 12, 2001, and December 31, 2006.
  • October 1, 2028: Veterans who were discharged or released between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2012.
  • October 1, 2030: Veterans who were discharged or released between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2018

Veterans as defined in Category 3 are eligible beginning October 1, 2032.

Veterans may be eligible for VA health care earlier if they have a service-connected illness or conditions of if they meet existing eligibility criteria. 

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Information for Survivors

If you’re a surviving family member of a PACT Act eligible Veteran, you may be eligible for benefits, even if you were previously denied.

You may qualify for a monthly VA dependency and Indemnity Compensation Payment if you’re the surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who died from a service-connected disability. 

You may qualify for a Survivor's Pension, if you’re the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with wartime service.

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Learn how to apply for VA DIC
Learn how to apply for a Survivors Pension

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VA opens health care eligibility for Vietnam, Gulf War, post-9/11 Veterans under PACT Act

Categories: PACT Act, VA Benefits, VA Health

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