McKinley Stands Up For Veterans, Votes in Support of the Honoring Our PACT Act

The Bill Expands Access to VA Healthcare and Benefits for Those Exposed to Toxic Chemicals

Washington, D.C. — Today, West Virginia’s veterans are receiving a boost as the Honoring our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act passes the House of Representatives and heads to the desk of President Biden to be signed into law. Congressman David B. McKinley has been a proud supporter of the PACT Act and voted “yes” on the bill yesterday.

The PACT Act expands health care benefits to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their service, like Agent Orange, radiation, and burn pits.

“The men and women of our armed forces put their lives on the line for our defense, often at the expense of their own health, safety, and well-being,” said Rep. McKinley. “Our veterans aren’t only subject to the risks that come with their active-duty service. They endure lifelong battles with physical and mental health, including past exposure to dangerous toxic substances that can result in rare cancers and other debilitating respiratory conditions.”

“Since entering office, I have consistently heard from veterans in West Virginia who have been negatively impacted due to exposure to toxic substances during their service. Unfortunately, the health problems are only the start of the problem, as many of these veterans have health care benefits that are either delayed or denied altogether. Our veterans deserve unwavering support, and I am honored today that the House was finally able to act and answer their pleas for help.”

Veterans groups representing tens of thousands of West Virginia Veterans contacted our office, urging us to support the bill, including:

American Legion Department of West Virginia, Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of West Virginia, West Virginia Goldstar Mothers, and Disabled American Veterans - West Virginia

McKinley has supported other key legislation to help veterans in recent months:

  • McKinley’s “VCR Act,” (H.R. 1510) was signed into law in November 2021, requiring the Dept. of VA to report on its policies and procedures relating to the usage and maintenance of video cameras for patient safety and law enforcement at VA medical facilities.
  • Supported H.R. 1836 – Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021, which rectifies the disparity of the National Guard and Reserve not receiving the same GI Bill benefits as servicemembers despite doing the same jobs with the same risks.
  • Supported H.R. 4673 – Ensuring Veterans’ Smooth Transition (EVEST) Act 2021, which automatically enrolls eligible servicemembers in VA healthcare during their transition out of the military. Veterans would be notified they were enrolled and what benefits are available to them. Once enrolled, the veteran can also choose to opt-out if they do not want to receive healthcare.


Background: 

The Honoring our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act is named in honor of Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson, who died due to his exposure to toxic substances during his time in active duty. This legislation will expand health care and benefits to veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances.

Provisions include:

  • Expanded access to health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxins 
  • Extends the enhanced eligibility period for post-9/11 veterans.
  • Starts a framework to be used for toxic exposure presumptions of service connections in the future.
  • Provides access to toxic exposure screenings for all veterans at VA medical appointments.
  • Enhances research on the connections related to toxic exposure during military service and negative health outcomes.
  • Adds 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to the VA’s presumption of connection list.

The PACT Act is also endorsed by all major national veterans’ service organizations, including:  

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), Minority Veterans of America (MVA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). 

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