Veterans exposed to burn pits get access to new benefits

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By Sam Shapiro

(WENY) — Back in August 2022, the PACT Act was passed in hopes of improving health access and funding for veterans exposed to toxic substances while serving. Now the law of the land, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand shared what veterans need to know about the additional resources available to them.

“We promise our service members (who) serve bravely anywhere around the globe, (that) we are here for (them) when (they) come home,” Gillibrand said.

The PACT Act now creates an even easier connection to healthcare resources for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals during their service. The federal law also opens eligibility up to more healthcare resources for younger veterans.

People during Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the way back to the Vietnam War can apply to receive the expanded benefits.

“No service member should be asked to serve this county, become sick because of that service, and not receive the health care they’ve earned when they come home.” Gillibrand said.

Many Vietnam veterans didn’t receive the respect they deserved for serving their country. Now, 50 years later, some are dealing with major health issues related to their service. Army Veteran Michael Moran fought in Vietnam in 1971 and ‘72 and says this expansion of benefits ensures no one who served gets left behind.

“It’s great that they’re recognizing and treating the newer veterans really well,” Moran said.

Next week, two open houses for veterans regarding expanding benefits under the PACT Act will be held in Bath and Elmira. Veterans can meet with VA representatives, get screened for toxic exposure, and file claims.


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