Biden’s VA approves 1 million claims under burn pit law

President Joe Biden speaks about the PACT Act at the Westwood Park YMCA, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden speaks about the PACT Act at the Westwood Park YMCA, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Isabel Soisson

May 22, 2024

President Biden’s PACT Act was the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic exposed veterans in more than 30 years. The law aims to provide specific support to veterans who have been exposed to toxins, often from open burn pits that were located near where these US military members were stationed.

President Biden on Tuesday announced that his administration has approved more than one million claims from American veterans who have been injured by toxic exposures during their military service.

Officials said this action was made possible by the president’s 2022 law, “The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics,”—also known as the PACT Act.

As the White House noted in 2022, the PACT Act was the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic exposed veterans in more than 30 years. The law aims to provide specific support to veterans who have been exposed to toxins, often from open burn pits that were located near where these US military members were stationed.

The law removed the need for certain veterans to prove a service connection if they are diagnosed with one of 23 specific conditions and reduced the amount of paperwork and exams that veterans diagnosed with one of these conditions must complete before they are given access to health care and disability compensation. The law has also helped ensure that veterans receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures, and expanded access to Veterans Affairs (VA) health care services.

During an event in New Hampshire on Monday, officials told reporters that more than 888,000 veterans and their family members are the recipients of about $5.7 billion in health benefits from these one million claims. This includes veterans suffering from allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma, sinusitis, cancer, hypertension, and other respiratory conditions.

In Iowa, 14,936 PACT Act benefits claims have been received and 9,115 PACT Act benefits claims have been granted.

The topic is a personal one for President Biden, who has long speculated that his son, Beau Biden, developed the brain cancer that ultimately killed him due to his exposure to burn pits when he served in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard.

Before signing the PACT Act nearly two years ago, Biden described the lingering effects of burn pit exposure.

“Toxic smoke, thick with poisons, spreading through the air and into the lungs of our troops,” he said. “When they came home, many of the fittest and best warriors that we sent to war were not the same. Headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer. My son Beau was one of them.”

“[When] I took office, I determined that come hell or high water, we were going to protect the heroes and protect our nation,” President Biden added during Tuesday’s event.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

CATEGORIES: NATIONAL POLITICS

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