If you’re a veteran who has worked in a military burn pit, good news is on the horizon. In June 2022, the United States Senate passed legislation that would offer eligible veterans medical services, disability benefits, hospitalization and nursing home care through the Veterans Affairs Department.
While the legislation won’t go into effect until the House and Senate can reconcile their versions of the bill, it looks promising. Furthermore, the bill is named after an Ohio National Guardsman: “The legislation adopted in an 84 to 14 vote is named the ‘Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022’ after an Ohio National Guard soldier from Pickerington who died in 2020 at age 39 from diseases caused by burn pit exposure.”
Dangerous burn pits and denied claims
The military uses burn pits to get rid of waste. Unfortunately, it exposes soldiers to toxic waste and other unhealthy byproducts. The Senate bill declares that 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers can be traced to burn pit smoke, and requires that the VA cover these medical expenses. Previously, 80 percent of burn pit disability claims were rejected.
According to the American Legion, “Toxic smoke and fumes from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan included medical and human waste, jet fuel, chemicals, metal, munitions and unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics, Styrofoam and more.”
While the bill estimates it will cost the federal government over $275 billion over the next ten years, most legislators think this is great news: not only will it help people who have been exposed to toxic burn pit smoke, but it also assists those who came into contact with Agent Orange and other toxic chemical substances. President Biden’s administration noted that the country owes its veterans appropriate healthcare and services—especially now that we better understand the true cost of toxic substance exposure.
Instead of being forced to hire lawyers and contest claim denial, veterans should be able to receive their well-deserved benefits in a timely manner. The legislation is expected to affect about 3.5 million veterans in the United States.
While the Law Offices of Tim Misny does not handle veterans’ claims, this progress is encouraging. Our veterans have earned their healthcare benefits, and we’re pleased to share the news with all of our clients who may be affected.
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