Ossoff, Warnock hail passage of veteran toxic exposure bill

Military veteran saluting American flag.
Military veteran saluting American flag.(WGCL)
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 2:54 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WRDW/WAGT) - The Senate passed a bill backed by Georgia’s senators to expand health care access for veterans who suffer from health conditions related to burn pits and other toxic exposures, often during their service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Senate voted 84-14, to pass the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022.

Democratic Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff announced the passage of the measure they supported.

The bill now returns to the House, then heads to the White House. President Joe Biden says he will sign it.

The bipartisan legislation will strengthen federal research on toxic exposures and the health issues that may result from them, as well as:

  • Expand Department of Veterans Affairs health care eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans.
  • Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure.
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension.
  • Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure.
  • Include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure.
  • Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure.
  • Improve VA resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans.
  • Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in VA claims processing, workforce and health care facilities.

“A month ago, some said it was impossible but today the Senate passed the most significant strengthening of VA health care for America’s vets in decades,” Ossoff said.

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