(Bozeman, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, met with local veterans and community leaders in Bozeman today to discuss the importance of passing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. Tester was joined by Montana State University Director of Veteran Services Joe Schumacher and toxic-exposed veteran Robert Hunter.
“In Montana, more than 60,000 veterans may have been exposed to toxic substances during their service,” said Chairman Tester. “As a result of their toxic exposure, many folks have developed rare, deadly cancers, respiratory conditions, and other debilitating illnesses. Next week, the Senate will have an opportunity to do right by these folks by passing my bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act. To put it simply—it’s the bill our veterans and their families deserve, and are counting on.”
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 is comprehensive legislation championed by the Senator to deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history. Among its many priorities, this legislation will expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand VA’s list of service presumptions, and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.
Earlier this week, the bill cleared the Senate’s first procedural vote 86-12, and a final vote will occur in the coming days.
Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He has 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 month, he announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill and expressed urgency that a Senate floor vote take place swiftly.