Breaking News
More () »

Since PACT Act's signing, more than 100K vets have applied for VA benefits

The PACT Act adds 23 cancers and respiratory illnesses to the VA's must-cover list linked to burn pit exposures.

WASHINGTON — To date, the Department of Veterans Affairs has received 112,949 new applications for disability claims since President Joe Biden signed the Honoring Our PACT Act back on August 10.

"The Pact Act is going to help VA deliver health benefits and healthcare for millions of toxic exposed veterans and their survivors," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said during a press conference on Tuesday.

McDonough said that claims applications this month were 19% higher than October 2021, with the VA receiving 1,000 more claims a day than it usually does, requiring the department to take steps to recruit additional health and benefits personnel and offer incentives to retain current employees.

The PACT Act adds 23 cancers and respiratory illnesses to the VA's must-cover list linked to burn pit exposure in the Gulf War and the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The bill's genesis came from the fact that 70% of veterans with illnesses related to burn pits were denied and as a result, couldn't access health care," said Lawrence Montreuil, director for The American Legion’s
Legislative Division. "Sick veterans couldn't meet the burden of proof."

The PACT Act is expected to help 3.5 million veterans, such as Iraq War Army vet Josh Nicholson, of Virginia Beach.

He told 13News Now in August that the PACT Act will help him.

"I struggle every day. And I do have some issues related to the burn pit exposure with my breathing and my nasal cavity and stuff," he said.

Kaitlynne Hetrick, an associate of Government Affairs for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Of America, said: "This isn't something that we're just giving the veterans because they're veterans. This is something that they earned. They were exposed and they deserve to be cared for."

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would add at least $277 billion to deficits through 2031.

Before You Leave, Check This Out