The 2022 Pact Act
The Pact Act was signed into law on August 10, 2022. Its’ purpose is to expand health benefits provided by the VA to veterans who were exposed to burn pits and toxic substances while serving in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Post-9/11.
The Pact Act increased the list of presumptive conditions considered automatically deserving of benefit coverage. That means the Act expands eligibility for VA health care for those veterans who were exposed to toxic substances while serving.
Each veteran who enrolls in the program will be screened for toxic exposure when they first enroll, and then every 5 years after that. The Act also provides for additional training for VA health care staff and claims processors and will follow veterans to monitor mortality rates and rates of cancer development.
Toxic exposure includes:
- Air pollutants from burn pits, oil well fires, sulfur fire, sand, dust, and particulate matter
- Chemicals like Agent Orange or other herbicides, burn pits, Camp Lejeune water supplies, pesticides, depleted uranium, chromium, or industrial solvents
- Radiation from nuclear weapons test sites, x-rays, or depleted uranium
- Warfare Agents like chemicals, nerve agents, mustard gas, herbicide tests, and storage
- Occupational Hazards like asbestos, lead, fuels, industrial solvents, radiation, vibration, noise, special paint on military vehicles, and some coolants or insulating fluids
The Pact Act increases health care eligibility to veterans who participated in toxic exposure risk activities while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. It also applies to veterans who were assigned to a duty station in certain locations on or after August 2, 1990, in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabis, Somalia, or the United Arab Emirates, and to those who served on or after September 11, 2001, in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, or any other country determined relevant by VA.
Also covered are veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, or Resolute Support Mission.
Veterans who believe they qualify for these benefits can apply online at: VA.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduction
Or by calling the toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387. You may also mail a completed application to the VA, or bring it to the nearest VA Medical Center or clinic.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “2022 PACT ACT: Understanding Health Care Eligibility and Benefits.”