Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today voted to pass the Honoring Our PACT Act, which will greatly expand eligibility for VA health care to veterans who have health problems due to exposure to toxins ranging from burn pits to Agent Orange. The legislation passed with bipartisan support after being voted down by Senate Republicans last week.
“The Honoring Our PACT Act will allow veterans in Rhode Island to breathe a sigh of relief,” said Whitehouse. “We have a sacred commitment to treat our heroes with dignity and gratitude, and I will continue to do everything in my power to honor that. Veterans’ health care should never be used as a bargaining chip, and I am glad Republicans have come around.”
The PACT Act also extends VA healthcare for combat veterans to ten years after they separate from service, and adds new presumptive service-connected conditions eligible for compensation benefits. The legislation equips the VA with significant resources to meet the new demands.
Since 9/11, as many as 3.5 million veterans – including tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders – have been exposed to toxins in the line of duty. Many have been denied VA benefits due to outdated rules and bureaucratic red tape.