CAMDEN COUNTY (KYW Newsradio) — After Joe Biden signed the PACT Act into law, one Gold Star mother from South Jersey explains just how much this new law will impact the lives of veterans and their families for the better.
Camden County Commissioner Melinda Kane lost her son, Lance Cpl. Jeremy Kane, in Afghanistan in 2010. Since then, she’s become an outspoken advocate for veterans and their families.
The PACT Act was the largest single bill ever to address the military’s exposure to burn pits while serving.
“Burn pits are the trash heaps that get set ablaze on military bases overseas to dispose of garbage, waste and unneeded items.” Kane explained. “It’s clear now that those burn pits often produce toxic fumes which have led to all sorts of health problems for service men and women.”
The problem is that the physical issues related to that exposure don’t happen immediately.
“Veterans come back home, and sometimes it takes years [before] they start developing physical problems,” she said. “And these physical problems were often dismissed or the veterans then had to prove for themselves the correlation between the exposure to the burn pits and their health problems.”
Kane says this bill delivers on the promise of supporting the men and women who bravely served their country.
“There’s 23 specific conditions that the VA is now going to approve for health care and disability compensation.”
And she says much-needed benefits are extended to the family members of veterans who have passed away.
“Sadly, there are thousands and thousands of families whose loved ones have already died because of the exposure to the toxins. And for those families, they will receive compensation for their loved ones' deaths. They will be eligible for a monthly stipend. They will be eligible for life insurance. Their surviving children will be eligible for college benefits.”
Veterans who are unsure of their eligibility should contact their local elected officials or congressional offices to find out more.