TUCSON, Ariz. – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) celebrated the Senate’s passage of historic legislation expanding access to care for Arizona veterans exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty. Championed by Rep. Grijalva and Democrats in both chambers of Congress, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act overcame widely-condemned Republican obstruction and will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This life-saving legislation extends critical VA benefits to as many as 3.5 million veterans across the country and will recognize toxic exposures as a cost of war that must be covered.
Rep. Grijalva is a cosponsor of the Honoring our PACT Act and has long supported legislative efforts to make presumption of service connections for diseases associated with exposure by veterans.
“Our servicemembers defended this nation and fulfilled their oath to the Constitution, and we made a promise that we would take care of them when they came home,” said Rep. Grijalva. “While Senate Republicans chose to obstruct this legislation for political reasons, forcing sick veterans and their families and caregivers in Arizona and across the nation to wait even longer for health care, Democrats chose to protect the health of those who fought to protect us. The Honoring our PACT Act will recognize exposure to toxins as a cost of war and extend hard-earned VA benefits to as many as 3.5 million American veterans who have been exposed to these dangerous substances, including toxic burn pits and Agent Orange.”
Recognizing the harms inflicted by exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards, the Honoring our PACT Act will enable as many as 3.5 million veterans to access critical health benefits. By codifying a presumption that servicemembers stationed in certain theatres at times were exposed to toxic substances, this legislation will shift the burden of proof off of veterans and their loved ones and ease access to care for a broad array of conditions and cancers. The Honoring our PACT Act will also streamline the VA’s process for establishing toxic exposure presumptions, ensuring that veterans do not have to wait decades for help. Additionally, this legislation will deliver justice for those exposed to contaminated drinking water while serving at Camp Lejeune, empowering servicemembers and military families to seek long-delayed compensation.
The Honoring our PACT Act is overwhelmingly supported by the veteran community, including Burn Pits 360 and 42 Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion (TAL), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and Minority Veterans of America (MVA).