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Schatz Votes To Pass Bipartisan Bill To Provide Health Care And VA Benefits To Toxic-Exposed Veterans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today voted to pass the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation authored by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to deliver all eras of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history.

“For decades, the government has failed service members and veterans who have fallen ill from exposure to dangerous toxic substances while they served our country,” said Senator Schatz. “This bipartisan bill will finally help make things right and provide the health care and benefits our veterans deserve.”

Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson deployed to Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard. He died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service. Among its many priorities, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 will:

  • Expand VA health care eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans;
  • Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension;
  • Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure;
    • Includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
  • Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure;
  • Improve VA’s resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans; and
  • Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in:
    • VA claims processing;
    • VA’s workforce;
    • VA health care facilities.

The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives where it must pass before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law.