Certain toxic-exposed vets eligible for VA heatlh care beginning Oct. 1

PACTSIGN
Hundreds of thousands of toxic-exposed veterans will become eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs health care benefits on Oct. 1. President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act authorizing the expansion in August. Photo credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of toxic-exposed veterans will find themselves eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs health care on Saturday.

That’s when certain Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans become eligible for the benefit under the Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics or PACT Act takes effect.

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“This expansion will bring generations of new veterans into VA health care, and increase the health care benefits of many more, which will result in the one outcome that matters most: better health outcomes for veterans,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough in a statement. “I highly encourage these veterans to apply now for the health care they’ve earned and deserve.”

Beginning on Oct. 1, post-9/11 veterans who did not previously enroll in VA health care will have a one-year window to enroll if they:

- Served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War, or

- Served in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after Nov. 11, 1998, and

- Were discharged or released from active service between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013.

Signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 10, the PACT Act also added 23 illnesses to the VA’s list of presumptive conditions for veterans exposed to toxins as a result of their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War will be eligible for care on Oct. 1. This includes veterans who, in connection with service during such period, received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Service Specific Expeditionary Medal, Combat Era Specific Expeditionary Medal, Campaign Specific Medal, or any other combat theater award established by federal statute or executive order.

Vietnam-era veterans who served in the following locations and time periods are eligible for care: The Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai base between Jan. 9, 1962, and June 30, 1976; Laos between Dec. 1, 1965, and Sept. 30, 1969; Certain provinces in Cambodia between April 16, 1969, and April 30, 1969; Guam or also Samoa (or their territorial waters) between Jan. 9, 1962, and July 31, 1980; Johnston Atoll (or on a ship that called there) between Jan. 1, 1972, and Sept. 30, 1977.

More information about the expansion can be found here.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images