Tester Urges Action for Veterans Suffering from Military Toxic Exposures

Committee heard testimony from veterans, medical experts, and advocates on the long-term health consequences of exposure to toxic substances

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(U.S. Senate) – Chairman Jon Tester today urged action from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on the long-term health consequences of military toxic exposures.

“We must develop a comprehensive process that is able to quickly deliver care and benefits to veterans as science develops around currently known and newly discovered exposures, without Congressional action,” said Chairman Tester. “This system must prioritize serving veterans’ urgent needs and delivering lifesaving care. Only then will we begin to fulfill the promises we made to care for those who sacrificed so much on our behalf.”

At the hearing, committee members heard powerful stories from veterans who served in the Vietnam and Iraq Wars on their experiences living with Hypertension and chronic lung disease—conditions associated with their exposure to Agent Orange and Burn Pits. Representatives from Veterans Service Organizations went on to highlight the critical need to address the costs of war associated with military services.

The committee also heard testimony from medical experts who examined the long-term health consequences of illnesses associated with toxic exposures, including Hypertension.

Tester has been fighting tirelessly in Congress to provide veterans suffering with exposure to toxic substances with the health care and benefits they have earned from VA. Last Congress, he successfully secured his landmark bill as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act establishing a presumption of service-connection for thousands of veterans suffering from Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.

Last month, Chairman Tester joined Ranking Member Jerry Moran in urging ‘decisive action’ from VA Secretary McDonough to include Hypertension to the list of presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange. Doubling down on his recent effort, Tester introduced bipartisan legislation today to support veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War-era by allowing them the opportunity to prove toxic exposure in order to qualify for VA benefits.

Tester’s opening statement as prepared for delivery can be found HERE.

Tester’s full Q&A is available HERE.