The Pact Act is a federal law signed in August of last year that expands health care and benefits for military veterans who have been exposed to burn pits, agent orange, or other toxic substances. Officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are calling it “the largest health care and benefit expansion” for veterans in the organization’s history.

While there is no deadline to apply, VA officials are urging veterans to file by August 9 to ensure they get backdated benefits.

WFDD’s Neal Charnoff spoke with VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes about what veterans need to know.

Interview highlights:

On the intent of the Pact Act

"This legislation impacts more than 6 million veterans and their survivors. And you're talking anyone from the Vietnam warrior, to the Gulf War era, to the post-911 era that I served in. And we know that there's a lot of veterans and survivors living in the state of North Carolina, who this potentially impacts. And this is about toxic substances that they may have come in contact with ... so to any veteran who may have come in contact with Agent Orange, burn pits, or any toxic substances, we're urging you to please contact the Department of Veterans Affairs locally, so we can get you the care and benefits that you've earned."

On "presumptive" conditions: 

"A presumptive condition is a condition that we automatically assume based on the research, and evidence that we've gathered, basically says that that condition that you were diagnosed with is because of your service. So (if a) Vietnam War veteran may be suffering right now from hypertension, no longer is the burden of proof in the hands of the veteran. The only thing that that veteran needs to do is show us proof that he or she served in Vietnam, show us that they have said condition ... there's over 250 new conditions on the Pact Act website that you can learn more about."

On "Intent To File" submissions: 

"To veterans out there who may not have the complete package, and may not be totally ready to file a complete claim, that's perfectly fine. You can apply for what's called an 'intent to file', and that basically holds your place in line, because this is critical. We're leading into the anniversary of the Pact Act. And we need everybody to apply on or before August 9 to maximize their benefits, because you'll be eligible for backdated benefits to when President Biden signed the bill into law last August."

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.