Pingree Votes to Honor our Promise to Toxic-Exposed Veterans
The Honoring our PACT Act will expand health care to over 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service and finally concede exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards
Washington, March 3, 2022
Tags: Veterans Issues
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) voted with the U.S. House of Representatives in passing H.R. 3967, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which will finally treat toxic exposure as a cost of war by addressing the full range of issues impacting toxic-exposed veterans, including access to earned benefits and health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Pingree is a cosponsor of the bill.
The Honoring our PACT Act is a comprehensive legislative package that will expand health care to over 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service and finally concede exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards. It will create presumptions for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers, shifting the burden of proof off our veterans. This means that if a veteran served in a particular theatre at a particular time, they will be presumed to be exposed to toxic substances and therefore potentially eligible for health care and benefits. Critically, this bipartisan legislation will also streamline VA’s presumption decision making process, so that Congress does not have to keep intervening, and our veterans don’t have to wait decades for help.
“I believe that we have a moral obligation to care for our nation's veterans. When they return home from protecting us and our freedoms, they deserve to be taken care of,” said Congresswoman Pingree, who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. “In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden made a personal appeal to Congress to pass any bill that would expand health care and disability compensation to the affected veterans, like his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Today, I proudly answered the President’s sincere call to action, and voted for the Honoring our PACT Act. This bipartisan legislation will ensure all veterans—like Beau and the countless others—exposed to toxic substances during their service can access the care and benefits they’ve earned. The Honoring our PACT Act is the comprehensive legislation we need to finally recognize military toxic exposure as a cost of war once and for all.”
Leaders from 11 Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) including the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion (TAL), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), Minority Veterans of America (MVA), and Burn Pits 360, among others, support the comprehensive bipartisan package.