WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva voted for H.R. 3967, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act or Honoring our PACT Act, which will finally treat toxic exposure as a cost of war by addressing the full range of issues impacting toxic-exposed veterans’; including access to earned benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Honoring our PACT Act is a comprehensive legislative package that will open up healthcare to over 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service and address this severe health risk. It will create presumptions for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers, shifting the burden of proof off our veterans. This means that if a veteran served in a particular theatre at a particular time, they will be presumed to be exposed to toxic substances and therefore potentially eligible for healthcare and benefits. Critically, this bipartisan legislation will also streamline VA’s presumption decision making process, so that Congress does not have to keep intervening, and our veterans don’t have to wait decades for help.
“When we sent our servicemembers into harm’s way, we made a promise that we would take care of them when they came home,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Today, I voted yes on the bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act to keep my promise to Arizona veterans and ensure all veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service can access the care and benefits they’ve earned. Honoring our PACT Act is the comprehensive legislation we need to finally recognize military toxic exposure as a cost of war once and for all and we must continue to pursue legislative and executive action to prevent our servicemembers from being subjected to toxic exposures in the future.”
“The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Arizona is encouraged by Congressman Grijalva’s support of H.R. 3967 and we look forward to working with him and his staff in the future to create additional provisions based on this bill,” said Jim Ellars, VFW, Department of Arizona, National Legislative Officer. “H. R. 3967 smartly addresses the need to acknowledge a larger scope of presumptive conditions for service members to apply for VA claim eligibility, and it provides the long overdue framework that will help the VA provide broader claim eligibility provisions for literally generations of past, present and future toxic exposed service members, and also allows the VA to more easily address future presumptions so as to not ignore or segregate future toxic exposure victims. The VFW in Arizona applauds this kind of foresighted legislation that finally provides a means to get all toxic exposure affected people acknowledged and then provide the critical care they deserve.”
Leaders from 11 Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) including the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The 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), Minority Veterans of America (MVA), and Burn Pits 360, among others, support the comprehensive bipartisan package.
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