Carbajal-Backed Measure to Overhaul Health Care for Toxic-Exposed Veterans Headed to President’s Desk

Legislation treats toxic exposure as a cost of war, and expands access to healthcare for millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their time in service, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam

Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal applauded the Senate’s passage of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which sends the landmark veterans’ health benefit bill to the desk of President Joe Biden to become law.

The comprehensive veterans’ benefits legislation will open up health care benefits to over 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service and finally consider exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards as a cost of war.

This fix will address the full range of issues impacting toxic-exposed veterans, including access to earned benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I am glad to see that the 25 Senate Republicans who held up this bill, despite supporting it just a few weeks ago, have stopped playing games with our veterans’ health care and let this bill get to the President's desk,” said Congressman Carbajal. When our servicemembers embark on their missions to protect the United States, we make a promise that we will take care of them when they come home. But that promise has not been kept for some veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and substances in the course of their duties.

“We owe it to toxic-exposed veterans to provide the care and benefits they've earned. As a veteran myself, I am proud to have co-sponsored this comprehensive legislation to finally recognize military toxic exposure as a cost of war and ensure we keep our promise to our veterans.”

The Honoring our PACT Act will finally concede exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards by creating presumptions for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers, shifting the burden of proof off our veterans. If a veteran served in a particular theater at a particular time, they will be presumed to be exposed to toxic substances and therefore potentially eligible for healthcare and benefits.

The bipartisan legislation will also streamline VA’s presumption decision making process, so that Congress does not have to keep intervening, and our veterans don’t have to wait decades for help.

More information on the bill can be found here.

Leaders from 11 Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) including the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion (TAL), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), Minority Veterans of America (MVA), and Burn Pits 360, among others, support the comprehensive bipartisan package.

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