SIGNED INTO LAW: Historic Bipartisan Legislation Providing Health Care & Benefits for Toxic-Exposed Veterans
Moran: The PACT Act Delivers on Our Promise to Our Veterans
Aug 10 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was signed into law. This historic, bipartisan legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The Senate passed the legislation on August 2 with a vote of 86-11.
“Today, we delivered on a promise made to our veterans that if someone serves in our military, we will take care of them and provide them with the benefits they have earned through their service,” said Sen. Moran. “From Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange to the 3.5 million post-9/11 veterans exposed to burn pits during their deployments, our nation’s veterans and their families will no longer have to fear being turned away from the VA for illnesses connected to toxic exposure. The SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act will make good on our promise to take care of our veterans by delivering all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
“Thank you to SFC Heath Robinson’s family and all the veterans and advocates who worked tirelessly to get this long-overdue bill passed through Congress and signed into law,” continued Sen. Moran. “Today would not have been possible without their input, commitment and dedication.”
The SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act delivers all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history. For more than a year, Sens. Moran and Tester led negotiations between Democrats, Republicans, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, Ranking Member Mike Bost, the Biden Administration, Veterans Service Organizations and advocates.
Among its many priorities, the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 will:
- Expand VA health care eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans;
- Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
- Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions;
- Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure;
- Includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
- Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure;
- Improve VA’s resources for toxic-exposed veterans and training for VA health care and benefits professionals; and
- Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in:
- VA claims processing;
- VA’s workforce; and
- VA health care facilities.
In Honor of SFC Heath Robinson:
This legislation is named in honor of SFC Heath Robinson, an Ohio Army National Guardsman who answered the call to serve our nation in the years following 9/11. He was a son, husband and father. After his service, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer caused by prolonged exposure to toxic substances. In 2020, the cancer cost him his life. Heath left behind an 8-year-old daughter, a wife and an extended family who are now committed to ensuring this country provides other veterans suffering from toxic exposures health care and benefits.
What Veterans Are Saying About the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act:
Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA President and CEO:
“The PACT Act could not have gotten done without the leadership and support of Sen. Jerry Moran. The hard work and dedication of him and his team helped fulfill a promise that our nation has left unanswered for years. He had the backs of veterans every step of the way, MOAA thanks you for the difference you have made for millions of veterans, their families and their survivors.”
Lee Tafanelli, Major General (Ret.) and former Adjutant General of Kansas:
“Our veterans have fought for this country. By no means should they have to fight the bureaucracy to get the necessary medical care they deserve. This landmark legislation fulfills the basic and sacred promise that we make to our veterans when we send them off to war. The promise that we will provide the necessary VA medical care and disability benefits when they return must be honored. The legislation that you championed will have a great impact in the lives of our veterans long after their service. The knowledge that the obstacles formerly in their way have now been streamlined will provide peace of mind as our veterans move on with their lives. Access to the necessary healthcare for illnesses that have occurred as a result of their exposure to toxins during their deployment is an absolute necessity.”
William Turner, Director of Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office and former Deputy Commanding General of Support for Fort Riley’s First Infantry Division:
“I greatly appreciate the extensive research and work that has been done by Senators Moran and Tester to effect legislation that rightfully would guarantee veterans who have been exposed to toxic environments and are suffering respiratory conditions, cancer and other associated illnesses permanent access to VA health care. Our Veterans have served in multiple locations where they have been exposed to a number of toxins that have resulted in them developing serious illnesses and they often struggle to gain access to health care and benefits that can help alleviate some of the pain and suffering they are experiencing. It is absolutely imperative that we enact the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022, as amended, to both guarantee exposed Veterans the permanent access to VA health care and also continue to establish a list of conditions that are presumed linkages to the toxic exposures thus enabling Veterans to receive their full benefits.”
Pat Proctor, Colonel (Ret.) U.S. Army and Kansas State Representative:
"As a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, I know so many of my fellow veterans who are suffering from the negative effects of toxic exposure during their service in-theater. And there is no telling how many of us will be impacted as we get older. I am so incredibly grateful to Senator Moran for leading this effort, standing with those of us who served, and seeing that our nation meets its obligation to those who risked their lives in its defense."
Timeline of Sen. Moran’s Work on Toxic Exposure Care for Veterans:
- August 10, 2022: The SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act is signed into law by the President.
- August 2, 2022: The Senate passes the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act with a vote of 86-11.
- July 13, 2022: The House passes the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act with a technical fix. It passed with a vote of 342-88.
- June 16, 2022: Sens. Moran and Tester’s amended SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act passes in the Senate with a vote of 84-14.
- March 29, 2022: Sens. Moran and Tester hold a hearing with VA Secretary McDonough to make necessary changes to the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act to improve VA resources and workforce for toxic-exposed veterans.
- March 3, 2022: The SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act passes the House with the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act included in the legislation.
- February 16, 2022: The Senate unanimously passes the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act.
- February 2, 2022: The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act unanimously passes the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is sent to the full Senate for consideration.
- February 1, 2022: Sens. Moran and Tester introduce the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act – landmark bipartisan legislation that would expand VA health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans.
- March 23, 2021: Sen. Moran cosponsors the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act – bipartisan legislation that would fundamentally reform and improve how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive VA health care.
- March 17, 2021: Sens. Moran and Tester call on the VA to expedite Vietnam veterans’ Blue Water Navy Claims to provide long-overdue benefits and care to veterans from Agent Orange exposure.
- March 10, 2021: Sen. Moran participates in a hearing on military toxic exposure focused on the human costs incurred from hazards such as Agent Orange and burn pits.
- February 26, 2021: Sens. Moran and Tester urge VA to expedite a decision for Vietnam veterans suffering from hypertension – a condition scientifically shown to have an association with exposure to Agent Orange.
- February 16, 2021: Sen. Moran calls on VA secretary to work with Congress to find solutions for Karshi-Khanabad Airbase (K2) in Uzbekistan veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service at Camp Stronghold Freedom.
- September 23, 2020: As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sen. Moran chairs a business meeting to unanimously pass the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act out of committee.
- June 17, 2020: Sens. Moran, Tester and Tillis hosted a roundtable discussion with the VA, Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several veteran service organizations regarding care for veterans exposed to toxic substances.
- December 16, 2016: Sen. Moran’s Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016 is signed into law.
- December 13, 2016: Sen. Moran’s Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016 is passed by Congress as part of a bipartisan veterans’ package.
- April 16, 2016: Sen. Moran attends a town hall meeting in Kansas City on the effects of toxic exposure, Agent Orange and Hepatitis on veterans.
- April 15, 2016: Sen. Moran introduces an amendment to the FY2017 Appropriations bill to require the VA to conduct a study and assessment on the current research available regarding the health conditions related to exposures to toxic substances.
- September 29, 2015: Sen. Moran participates in a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing on the impact of exposure to toxic chemicals on veterans and the VA’s response.
- April 14, 2015: Sen. Moran introduces the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 – legislation focused on supporting the research of health conditions faced by descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxins during their military service.
- August 7, 2014: Sen. Moran speaks at the Vietnam Veterans of America National Leadership Conference in Wichita, Kan. about his Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2014 and heard from Kansas veterans and their families about the effects of Agent Orange.