Kansas Common Sense

This week, the Senate delivered historic legislation that I sponsored with Senator Jon Tester (Mont.) to help millions of veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service. After months of debate and procedural hurdles, the Senate passed the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 with a vote of 86-11. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

As leaders of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Sen. Tester and I worked in a bipartisan fashion with Kansas veterans, Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veteran advocates and our Senate colleagues to craft the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act. In May, we introduced this bipartisan and landmark legislation.

Decade after decade, American men and women have deployed to countries across the globe in the defense of our freedom. Thousands of them were exposed to harmful toxins during that service that resulted in life-altering health conditions. And far too many of them face yet another battle here at home when seeking the care and the benefits they desperately need. Our veterans deserve better. And they are tired of waiting for solutions. The SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act will deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the VA for the first time in our nation’s history.

Sen. Moran joins veterans at a press conference on June 7, 2022.

Our veterans put their lives on the line to serve our country, and we must match that level of commitment by caring for their wounds when they return home. Not only will this legislation provide long-overdue health care and benefits to the 3.5 million Post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to burn pits, but this legislation will deliver care for all generations of veterans, including Vietnam veterans suffering from exposure to Agent Orange. Our nation’s veterans and their families will no longer have to fear being turned away from the VA for illnesses related to toxic exposures.

Sen. Moran joins veterans at a press conference on June 16, 2022.

Among its many priorities, the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act 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’s health care facilities.

Sen. Moran spoke on the Senate floor regarding the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act on July 28, 2022.

The SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act would not have been possible without the hard work of numerous Veteran Service Organizations, veteran families, survivors, and advocates and veterans themselves who came to Washington to meet with me and who testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Thank you for your service and thank you for your work in helping us deliver long-lasting solutions and comprehensive reforms for those who served our country.

Sen. Moran speaks with SFC Heath Robinson's mother-in-law, Susan Zeier, during a veterans rally outside the U.S. Capitol on August 2, 2022.

I especially want to thank Heath Robinson’s family who turned their own loss and heartache into action. Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson deployed to Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard. He died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service. This bill will help thousands of veterans like Heath face the health challenges that follow them through their life after service.

Sen. Moran spoke on the Senate floor regarding the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act on August 2, 2022.

As a leader on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, we have been able to deliver veterans choice through the MISSION Act, landmark mental health legislation through the Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Health Heath Care Improvement Act, and now health care and benefits to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans through the SFC Heath Robinson Act. I’m proud that the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is still a place in Washington, D.C. that can bring people together, find consensus and get things done for those who have served our country.

Sen. Moran joins Jon Stewart, Sen. John Tester and Sen. John Boozman at a press conference on June 7, 2022.

Sen. Tester and I joined "The Problem with Jon Stewart" to discuss what's being done in Congress to help veterans suffering from toxic exposure on September 29, 2021. To listen to the podcast, click here.

What Veterans Are Saying About the PACT Act:

Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO

Lee Tafanelli, Major General (Ret.) and former Adjutant General of Kansas

William Turner, Director of Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office and former Deputy Commanding General of Support for Fort Riley’s First Infantry Division

Pat Proctor, Colonel (Ret.) U.S. Army and Kansas State Representative

Kristina Keenan, Associate Director, National Legislative Service, at Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

Thank You To Kansas Veterans
Thank you for your support of our veteran community. If you are a veteran or know a veteran in need of assistance, please reach out to any of my offices.

Through my work in Washington, D.C., I will continue to work to make certain our veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned in service to our country. 

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