Senators Warner and Kaine celebrate the passage of the PACT Act bill to expand benefits for veterans exposed to toxics
From Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner:
STATEMENT OF THE SENSES. MARK R. WARNER AND TIM KAINE ON THE PASSAGE THROUGH THE SENATE OF A BILL TO EXPAND BENEFITS FOR VETERANS EXPOSED TO TOXIC
~Senators celebrate passage of bill to expand benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances on bipartisan basis~
WASHINGTON – Today, the senses. Americans Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated the Senate’s adoption of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson honors our promise to fight the PACT Act of 2022 following filibuster efforts by Senate Republicans last week. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for substance-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and authorize a new community outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads:
“Our country’s veterans have sacrificed so much serving in the Armed Forces, and we must honor that sacrifice by ensuring they have access to the benefits they have earned and deserve. We are pleased that the Senate finally did the right thing by passing this bipartisan legislation to extend much-needed health care benefits to veterans who were exposed to toxins and burns while serving our country.” , said the senators.
Meaning Warner and Kaine vote pass the Honoring our PACT law on June 16 and again on July 27.
The bill is named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 from toxic exposure following his military service in Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard.
More specifically, the Honoring our PACT law will be:
- Extend VA health care to more than 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances after 9/11;
- Authorizing 31 major medical facility leases and allocating $5.5 billion to fund these facilities, including a new outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads;
- Improve VA resources and training for veterans exposed to toxic substances;
- Create a framework for establishing future service connection presumptions related to toxic exposure;
- Add 23 sources of combustion and conditions related to toxic exposure to the list of VA service presumptions, including hypertension;
- Expand the Agent Orange exposure presumptions to include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as places of Agent Orange exposure;
- Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure; and
- Prepare VA and veterans for success by investing in VA claims processing, the VA workforce, and VA healthcare facilities.
The bill will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Virginia is home to more than 700,000 veterans. Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and burns while serving. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA), which Warner and Kaine voted to adopt, included provisions to expand the list of VA medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. Warner and Kaine also co-sponsored legislation which was enacted in 2019 to extend VA coverage to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while stationed off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The bill also extended those benefits to service members exposed to herbicides while serving in the Korean DMZ and to children of service members stationed in Thailand who were born with spina bifida.
In 2015, faced with wait times in Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, Senator Warner successfully urged the AV to send a team of experts to solve the problem. He also has successful Get the Northern Virginia Technology Council to release a free report detailing how to reduce wait times. Most recently, in October 2020, Warner successfully seen through signing his law to expand veterans’ access to mental health services and reduce the alarming suicide rate among veterans. He also met with senior leaders of the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Hampton Medical Center in Virginia to discuss reducing wait times at their facilities and suicide prevention efforts.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Senator Kaine introduced the bipartisan Veterinary Support Act to provide better identification, intervention and care for veterans struggling with mental health issues in underserved areas. He also co-sponsored legislation to allow VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states like Virginia that have established medical marijuana programs.