Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today voted to pass the Honoring Our Pact Act, a bill to reform the Veterans Affairs health care system, particularly the health care and benefits received by veterans exposed to toxic chemicals.
“We know that millions of our veterans who served around the world were exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals, but their health benefits haven’t kept pace with those life-threatening exposures,” Senator Feinstein said.
“That’s why I’m so pleased this bill will finally be signed into law. This will make it easier for veterans who are suffering from the effects of toxic exposure to qualify for health care and other benefits. The bill also invests in VA health care facilities and expands the VA medical workforce.
“Our uniformed men and women risk their lives and health to serve our nation – it’s the least we can do to care for them when they come home. This bill will improve the lives of millions of veterans in California and across the country, and its passage is long overdue.”
Key provisions in the bill:
- Expands access to VA health care for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances or were assigned to certain high-risk locations or contingency operations.
- Extends the period of VA health care eligibility for post-9/11 combat veterans from five years after discharge to 10 years.
- Creates a framework for the VA to determine whether service members should be presumed to have been exposed to toxic substances.
- Increases toxic exposure screening for veterans, and training and education for VA health care personnel.
- Increases research on toxic exposure to inform decisions about VA care and disability determinations.
- Modernizes VA claims processing to shorten response times.