Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded Senate passage of the Honoring Our Pact Act.
The bill, introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), implements significant reforms to the VA health care system, particularly the health care and benefits received by veterans exposed to toxic chemicals.
“Millions of veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world have been exposed to toxic chemicals, burn pits and other hazards, and it’s our duty to make sure they’re taken care of,” Senator Feinstein said.
“This bill is a big step toward achieving that goal. It makes it easier for veterans suffering from toxic exposure to qualify for health care and benefits, invests in VA health care facilities and expands the VA medical workforce.
“If our country is willing to send our uniformed men and women to war, we must also be willing to care for them when they return home. I’m proud that we’ve passed this important bill that will improve the lives of veterans in California and across the country.”
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.
- Increases VA claims processing capacity and shorten response times by modernizing claims processing.