Today, the Georgia Department of Veterans Service commended President Biden on signing the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act into law. The legislation marks the most significant expansion of benefits and services to America’s war veterans in more than 30 years.
“The passage of the PACT Act is potentially life-changing for hundreds of thousands of Georgia’s veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals during their active military service,” said Patricia Ross, Commissioner of Georgia Department of Veterans Service. “Our agency and its accredited veteran service officers are available and ready to support this community.”
“Even if a veteran or their family has been denied a claim in the past, we encourage them to file a claim again,” added Ross. “We invite Georgia’s veteran population to contact any of our 51 offices across the state to schedule an appointment.”
As a state government agency, 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. The new law significantly increases the number of veterans eligible for benefits. The VA is expected to contact veterans on the burn pit registry and encourage them to file a claim through their website; however, not all veterans may be registered.
QUICK FACTS FOR GEORGIA VETERANS
- The bill creates over 20 new presumptive conditions for which Gulf War and Post 9/11-era veterans may now be eligible to receive service-connected compensation.
- Over one-third of Georgia’s veteran population, almost 300,000 Gulf War and Post 9/11 veterans, may now qualify for benefits.
- For Vietnam veterans, presumptive conditions and exposure locations have been expanded to include conditions such as hypertension.
- Historically, veterans have been denied benefits related to hypertension.
- Thailand, Guam, and American Samoa are now included in presumed exposure locations.
- Veterans who have a previously denied claim for toxic substance exposure may re-apply for benefits.
- Surviving spouses and their children may also now be eligible to receive benefits.
The Georgia Department of Veterans Service (GDVS) is not part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but is an agency of Georgia’s state government created for the purpose of advising, counseling, and assisting Georgia’s veterans and their families in receiving their rightful benefits under the vast and complex framework of veterans’ laws. The GDVS mission, to serve Georgia's veterans and their families in all matters pertaining to veterans benefits, falls into two basic tasks: informing veterans and their families about veterans’ benefits, and directly assisting and advising veterans and their families in securing the federal and state benefits to which they are entitled.
Veterans or their family members should contact their local field office to schedule an appointment. Locate a veteran field service office near you at: https://veterans.georgia.gov/field-offices.
PACT Act Background:
According to a statement from the White House, the PACT Act was named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson—a decorated combat medic who died from a rare form of lung cancer. The historic legislation will help deliver more timely benefits and services to more than 5 million veterans who may have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving our country.