(U.S. Senate) – After working for months with colleagues from both chambers, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough, the Biden Administration, and Veterans Service Organizations, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today released text of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 is comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under VA for the first time in the nation’s history.
“This is a big step forward in showing all Americans the Senate’s plans to deliver toxic-exposed veterans and their families the comprehensive health care and benefits they have earned for the first time in this country’s history,” said Senators Tester and Moran. “As leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, we have worked tirelessly with our colleagues from both sides of the aisle to ensure this legislation expands VA health care eligibility for Post-9/11 combat veterans, improves VA’s claims processing, and delivers VA the necessary resources to take care of our veterans from every generation. While our work is far from over, together we’re committed to keeping up our end of the bargain to those who sacrificed on behalf of our freedoms by getting this bill across the finish line as soon as possible.”
This legislation will now head to the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate. After Senate passage, the legislation must be passed by the House before being signed into law by the President.
Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson deployed to Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard. He died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service. Among its many priorities, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 will:
- Expand VA 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;
- Includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
- Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure;
- Improve VA’s resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans; and
- Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in:
- VA claims processing;
- VA’s workforce;
- VA health care facilities.
As leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester and Moran have long been dedicated to identifying a path forward for unaddressed toxic exposure issues alongside Veterans Service Organizations—remaining committed to delivering comprehensive relief to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans. Last week, the Senators announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill and expressed urgency that a Senate floor vote take place swiftly.
Bill text of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 can be found HERE.
A one-pager on the bill can be found HERE.