TAPS Celebrates the Passage of The Historic Pact Act
TAPS is pleased to celebrate the passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act into law. This historic legislation ensures veterans of multiple generations who were exposed to burn pits, toxins, and airborne hazards while deployed are provided immediate, lifelong access to VA health care and benefits.
As the leading voice for the families of those who died as a result of illnesses connected to toxic exposure and a founding member and co-chair of the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Coalition, we worked closely with Members of Congress and fellow veteran service organizations to help introduce and pass this historic legislation.
“The passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act ensures that veterans who have selflessly served in defense of freedom and the families who have stood by their side know now that America will stand with them as they fight for their lives, and stand with their families should they not survive this final battle,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder.
TAPS has been committed to promoting a better shared understanding of illnesses that may result from exposures to toxins. Our desire is to ensure eligible veterans, families, caregivers, and survivors have access to all available benefits.
Candace Wheeler, TAPS Director of Government and Legislative Affairs, poses with leaders from Veterans Services Organizations on August 3, 2022, before the Senate voted to pass the PACT Act.
PACT Act: A Team Effort
TAPS is grateful to Chairmen Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mark Takano (D-CA) and Ranking Members Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mike Bost (R-IL) of the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs for their leadership on the PACT Act which passed the Senate with a vote of 86-11 on August 2, 2022, and the House by a vote of 342-88 on July 13, 2022. Thank you to the leadership of the House and the Senate, the Biden Administration, the VA, and the more than 60 veteran and military organizations who joined us in advocating for this critical legislation. We are also grateful to Jon Stewart and John Feal for their dedication to this bill.
Last but certainly not least, we want to thank all of the surviving military families who so courageously shared their stories to help advocate for others. Illness loss is the leading cause of military death, and each year more survivors whose loved one died due to toxic exposure illness connect with TAPS for grief support and resources. Their lessons learned and powerful testimonies affected change and enabled this legislation to come to fruition. Because of them, other families will have hope when facing a similar journey and lives will be saved.
The PACT Act and Your Benefits
The PACT Act is the largest healthcare expansion and benefits coverage in history and covers veterans from Vietnam, Gulf War, and post 9/11 eras. Its key features include:
- 23 new recognized presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
- More exposure locations eligible for Agent Orange and radiation presumptive conditions
- Toxic exposure screening for every veteran enrolled in VA health care
“The PACT ACT will provide the care our veterans and their families, and survivors deserve,” said Kimberly Hughes, surviving spouse of Army Major Gary Hughes who died from stage four stomach and liver cancers after being exposed to open burn pits while stationed in Afghanistan. “Because of this important legislation our veterans who came home sick or have died can now have some peace.”
If you are a veteran or survivor, you can see a full list of new presumptive conditions and locations, review your eligibility, and file claims for PACT Act-related benefits at va.gov/pact.
Kimberly Hughes, Jon Stewart, and Candace Wheeler pose for a photo on August 2, 2022, before the PACT Act was passed through the Senate
Illness Loss Grief Support: If you are a survivor coping with a toxic exposure related loss and in need of grief support, programs, or services, TAPS is here to help. Our National Military Survivor Helpline is available at 800-959-TAPS (8277) any time, 24/7.
Policy Questions: If you have questions about the PACT ACT, please contact our policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.