The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act) passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in August extends the health benefits of many veterans, including those who served in Vietnam.
While much of the news has revolved around Post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits, several provisions of the bipartisan legislation affect Vietnam veterans, as well.
To receive paid-for care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), your condition must be connected to your service. For those who sustained wounds directly and obviously from combat, making that service connection is a relatively simple affair. For those who suffered mental repercussions or injuries from being exposed to toxic substances such as burn pits or Agent Orange, that connection isn’t always as straightforward. With the addition of new locations to the rubrics for presumptive conditions of toxic exposure, more Vietnam veterans will get relief from burdensome paperwork.
For you to qualify as having a condition that is presumed to be caused by an exposure to toxins during their service, the VA uses a rubric that factors in the distinct diagnosis as well as your dates and locations of service. The U.S. military often has period-specific records of toxic exposure, so, while determining exact effects of any particular toxin can be difficult, correlating diseases that are common among a generation of veterans can yield faster tracks to treatment using this rubric.
Moving forward, the PACT Act also addresses processes that formalize and speed up the VA’s process for adding presumptive conditions of toxic exposure in the hopes that future generations of veterans won’t wait as long to be fast-tracked for care.
The PACT Act added five new locations (with specific date ranges) to the Vietnam-era veterans’ rubric of presumptive Agent Orange exposures. Those locations are:
These locations and dates are in addition to the previous Agent Orange known exposure locations. For veterans who served in these locations whose service disability didn’t previously fall into the category of a presumptive location, the updated rubric should make obtaining treatment far more accessible.
If your condition wasn’t previously considered a formal presumptive exposure and has been added because of the updated conditions list or updated locations, you can work with a professional to apply for the first time or, if you have filed for benefits before, you may file a supplemental claim.
However, even if you have never needed treatment for conditions related to toxic exposure, the VA has a registry for anyone who knows they were exposed to Agent Orange. You are entitled to a specific health screening for related conditions, and your information will be kept up-to-date in the VA’s Agent Orange Registry to receive alerts about conditions or discoveries that could affect your health or treatment in the future.
To find out if you or your family could benefit from the PACT Act legislation, contact the team at Berry Law today.
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