With today's final passage of the PACT Act in the Senate, Utah Veterans will soon receive care and treatment they earned as result of Burn Pit Exposure during their military service. Before today, more than 70 percent of disability claims related to burn pit exposure were denied by the Veterans Administration due to veterans’ inability to “prove” their illnesses or cancers are linked to exposure to burn pits — that will now change.
Utah has a long history of citizens stepping up to serve, so Utah has a significant Veteran population many of whom served multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations where they were routinely exposed to these toxic burn pits. Consequently, many of these veterans now suffer from asthma, COPD, auto-immune diseases, cancers and tumors of the throat and lungs, and more.
The PACT Act also provides needed funds for researching and understanding the long term effects burn pit exposure has on veterans, how to best treat them, and how to mitigate long term effects veterans are suffering.
The PACT Act will do the following:
Add 23 illnesses to the list of toxic-exposure-related presumptive conditions (which means the VA will automatically assume burn pits were the cause of those illnesses).
Direct more resources to VA health care centers and hire more employees and claims processors to speed up paperwork.
Fund more federal research on toxic exposure impacts.
Expand service-connected illness presumptions for veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical the U.S. military used during the Vietnam War. American Samoa, Cambodia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Laos and Thailand will all be added to the list of locations where veterans are presumed to have been exposed to the chemical.
Traditionally, veterans issues have been bipartisan issues. We are grateful to all who support veterans with actions to match their words, regardless of party. Despite NO votes from Senators Lee and Romney as well as all four of Utah's Representatives in the House, the PACT Act measure passed the Senate today 86-11 and next goes to President Biden for signature into law.