The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was signed into law on August 10, 2022. The legislation marks the most significant expansion of benefits and services to America’s war veterans in more than 30 years.

The new law significantly increases the number of veterans eligible for benefits. Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances may now be eligible to receive VA health care and benefits.

How can the GDVS help if I think I qualify for benefits under the PACT Act?

The GDVS has more than 100 VA-accredited veteran service officers who work to help the veteran community or their survivors at every step of the claims process.

Even if a veteran or their family has been denied a claim in the past, we encourage them to file a claim again.

Please contact any of our field service offices across the state to schedule an appointment and start working on a claim as soon as possible.

VA Announces ALL Veterans Exposed to Toxins During Military Service Are Eligible for VA Health Care

VA recently announced all veterans who were exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving in the military – at home or abroad – will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care beginning March 5, 2024

This expansion of VA health care eliminates the phased-in approach called for by the PACT Act – meaning millions of veterans are becoming eligible for VA health care up to eight years earlier than written into law.

All veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11 will now be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty in the United States will also be eligible to enroll.

New 2024 Proposed Rule: Expanding Agent Orange Presumptive Exposure Locations and Times

On February 9, 2024, VA issued a proposed rule to expand the locations and time frames for a presumed exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. If the proposed rule becomes final, VA will implement a new presumption of exposure to locations where herbicides were tested, used, or stored outside of Vietnam. 

Specifically, this would add locations in the United States (full list of US locations where Agent Orange was tested or stored), Canada, and India to the existing presumptive locations. 

To be eligible, a veteran must have served in the identified location(s) during a specific time period and currently have a condition(s) presumptively associated with herbicide exposure. 

Which Gulf War era and post-9/11 veterans are eligible for benefits?

More than 20 burn pit and other toxic exposure presumptive conditions have been added based on the PACT Act. 

These cancers are now presumptive:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer of any type
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer of any type
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

These illnesses are now presumptive:

  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

What are the new Agent Orange presumptive conditions?

There are 2 new Agent Orange presumptive conditions:

  • High blood pressure (also called hypertension)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

Veterans may also be eligible for disability compensation based on other Agent Orange presumptive conditions. These conditions include certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and other illnesses.

Where are the new Agent Orange presumptive locations? 

VA has added 5 new locations to the list of presumptive locations for Agent Orange exposure: 

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976 
  • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980
  • Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977

Where are the new radiation presumptive locations? 

VA has added 3 new locations to the list of presumptive locations: 

  • Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll, from January 1, 1977, through December 31, 1980
  • Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, through March 31, 1967
  • Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland from January 21, 1968, to September 25, 1968

Can I get a toxic exposure screening?

All VA health facilities will offer toxic exposure screenings. 

Every veteran enrolled in VA health care will receive an initial screening and a follow-up screening at least once every 5 years. 

If you are not enrolled but meet eligibility requirements, you will have an opportunity to enroll and receive a screening. 

The screenings will ask if you think you were exposed to: 

  • Open burn pits and other airborne hazards
  • Gulf War-related exposures
  • Agent Orange
  • Radiation
  • Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure
  • Other exposures