Today, VA 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. 

As directed by President Biden, 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.

“Expanding VA health benefits will be transformative for the many veterans in Georgia who need the high-quality health care VA provides,” said Georgia Department of Veterans Service Commissioner Patricia Ross. “We are glad all of these veterans will be able to see VA for the care they earned and deserve through their service to our country.”

In Georgia, over 539,000 wartime and 151,000 peacetime veterans may now be eligible for VA health care under the expansion.

Additionally, it will now be faster and easier than ever for veterans to enroll in VA health care. Veterans do not have to first apply for VA disability compensation benefits or wait for a claim decision to become eligible. With this expansion and other authorities, millions of eligible veterans can enroll directly in VA care.

All eligible veterans are encouraged to visit or call 1-800-MYVA411 to learn more and apply for VA healthcare beginning March 5, 2024.

Some veterans may also be eligible for disability compensation benefits based on their military service and related injuries, diseases, or toxic exposures. Over 60,000 veterans in Georgia have already submitted a claim for PACT Act benefits.

The Georgia Department of Veterans Service has more than 100 VA-accredited veteran service officers ready to help veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors at every step of the claims process. Visit to find help near you and start working on your claim for veterans benefits.


This expansion of care covers Vietnam Veterans, Gulf War Veterans, Iraq War Veterans, Afghanistan War Veterans, Veterans who deployed in support of contingency operations for the Global War on Terror (Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Resolute Support Mission), and more.

Veterans who were exposed to one or more of the following hazards or conditions during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (TERA):

  • Air pollutants: burn pits, sand, dust, particulates, oil well fires, sulfur fires;
  • Chemicals: pesticides, herbicides, depleted uranium with embedded shrapnel, contaminated water;
  • Occupational hazards: asbestos, industrial solvents, lead, paints including chemical agent resistant coating, firefighting foams;
  • Radiation: nuclear weapons handling, maintenance and detonation, radioactive material, calibration and measurement sources, X-rays, radiation from military occupational exposure;
  • Warfare agents: nerve agents, chemical and biological weapons; and more.

VA will use all available information to determine if veterans participated in a TERA, including military records and service connection.


About GDVS:

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 veterans service office near you at:

About the PACT Act:

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—and signed into law on August 10, 2022. The historic legislation has helped deliver more timely benefits and services to more than 5 million veterans who may have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving our country.

Since the PACT Act was signed into law, over 500,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care, including more than 14,000 veterans in Georgia.