PACT Act will expand benefits for thousands of veterans in Washington state

WASH. — Washington lawmakers are cheering the passing of the PACT Act and what it will do for local veterans.

The act aims to expand benefits for veterans who developed illnesses from being exposed to burn bits.

It will include protect more than 354,000 veterans in Washington state who served during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.  The bill also will provide provisions and funding sought by Senator Patty Murray for a new Veterans Administration clinic in the Tri-Cities area. 

“This bill is among the most significant expansions of VA health care benefits in history, and demonstrates our nation’s commitment to our veterans,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “We’re incredibly grateful to those in our congressional delegation who helped make this bill possible.”

The bill is named after a veteran who died because of toxic exposure during his time in military service. The PACT act will: 

  • Expand VA health care eligibility to more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed post-9/11 combat veterans. 
  • Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure. 
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension.  
  • Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure which includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure. 
  • Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure 
  • Improve VA’s resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans  
  • Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in VA claims processing workforce, and health care facilities. 

 

The bill now moves on to the White House to be signed by President Biden, who has expressed support for the act.