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Senate passes PACT Act, expanding access to care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits

The bill now goes to President Biden's desk. He's expected to sign it into law on Monday.

NORFOLK, Va. — Care after combat will soon become easier for millions of veterans after the Senate passed the PACT Act.

The bill will soon expand access to health care and disability benefits for service members exposed to toxic substances.

“Our veterans will put their life on the line and willingly wrote a blank check to this country up to include their lives,” said Alonzo Scott, the commander of American Legion Post 37.

Scott said the nonprofit organization has nearly 300 members. He said he has heard many stories from several veterans looking for care after combat. 

Many of them served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf War – exposed to toxic burn pits and other substances trying to find care.

“They have been struggling because we haven’t been able to file those claims because it’s difficult for us to establish direct service connection,” he said.

Many claims to the Department of Veteran Affairs are often denied because veterans can’t prove their health concerns are connected to their service.

All that will change when the PACT Act becomes law.

“This legislation is going to reach 3.5 million additional veterans," said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. "So, it’s the largest increase in access to veterans care in any of our lifetimes and it’s long overdue.”

Luria said she has worked to get care for veterans – even introducing the COVENANT Act, which is now a part of the PACT Act.

“It will take the burden off them to prove what they were exposed to, when and for how long because we know that these diseases are way too prevalent in a community of veterans who are younger and would normally be much healthier,” Luria said.

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