Moran-supported bill supporting veterans exposed to toxic chemicals signed into law

President Joe Biden on Aug. 10 signed into law a bipartisan bill U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) helped introduce that will provide all generations of toxic-exposed United States military veterans with their earned health care and benefits under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“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,” Sen. Moran said on Wednesday. 

The newly signed Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, S. 3373, was sponsored in December 2021 by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). The U.S. Senate on Aug. 2 voted 86-11 to pass the bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved on July 13 with a 342-88 vote.

“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,” said Sen. Moran, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act will make good on our promise to take care of our veterans.”

The senator also thanked the family of SFC Heath Robinson, the Ohio Army National Guardsman for whom the bill is named. Robinson served during the years following 9/11 and later was diagnosed with a rare cancer caused by prolonged exposure to toxic substances. He died In 2020 from cancer and is survived by his daughter, wife and extended family, according to information provided by Sen. Moran’s staff. 

“Today would not have been possible without their input, commitment and dedication,” the senator said of the family.

The new law will expand VA healthcare eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans; create a framework to establish future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure; and add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to the VA’s list of service presumptions, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Moran’s office.

Additionally, it will bolster federal research on toxic exposure, improve the VA’s resources for toxic-exposed veterans and training for VA health care and benefits professionals; and invest in VA claims processing, the VA’s workforce and VA healthcare facilities, the summary says.