President Biden signs PACT Act, addresses toxic exposures

President Joe Biden signs the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act on August 10, 2022. (Photo: Kent Nishimura)
President Joe Biden signs the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act on August 10, 2022. (Photo: Kent Nishimura)

President Biden signs PACT Act, addresses toxic exposures

MHS Communications

In the most significant expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care in more than 30 years, President Biden signed the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act this past month.

The legislation, which underwent several revisions in the House and Senate, expands and extends eligibility for veterans of the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras. Of note, the PACT Act will:

  • Add more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures, as well as additional presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
  • Requires provision of a toxic exposure screening for veterans enrolled in VA health care
  • Improve health effects research and exposure monitoring across Department of Defense

Among the requirements of the PACT Act is substantial coordination between DOD and VA, specifically in regard to service members’ and veterans’ ability to update exposure records in the Individual Longitudinal Exposure Record (ILER). This application is used by the DOD and the VA to track, record, and assess environmental and occupational exposure to potentially hazardous substances ­– data that is crucial to health care interventions and treatment.

"It's vitally important we take care of our service members and veterans. I'm proud of the role that the Department of Defense, including Health Affairs, will play in ensuring that service members and veterans are able to get the care they need and deserve. We'll work hand in hand with the VA to ensure full and complete implementation of the PACT Act," stated Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Seileen Mullen, who was in attendance for the bill signing.

In addition to implementation of the PACT Act and ongoing coordination to enhance the capabilities of the ILER, the DOD continues to collaborate with VA in its work on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, a secure database of health information provided by service members and veterans that helps the VA collect, analyze, and publish data on health conditions that may be related to environmental exposures experienced during deployment.

Active duty service members can learn about recent updates to the registry and how to participate at the Health.mil/AHBurnPitRegistry.

For more information about the PACT Act and its effects on VA benefits, please visit the VA Resource page.  

Full text of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act can be found here.

 

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