HYDE-SMITH VOTES TO EXPAND DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR VETERANS
‘Honoring Our PACT Act’ Would Help Veterans Exposed to Toxic Hazards during Service to the Nation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today voted for passage of a major veterans’ care measure that will dedicate long-sought resources to help military veterans suffering from chronic health issues associated with exposure to toxic hazards.
The Senate voted 84-14 to approve the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act (HR.3967). The measure expands access to disability compensation and health care benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans exposed to toxic substances or environments while serving in the military.
“The existing VA disability claims system leaves veterans without the care they need to battle illnesses linked to exposure to toxic hazards from burn pits and other dangers. The Honoring Our PACT Act will at long last begin to fix this shortcoming,” Hyde-Smith said. “This legislation, while not perfect, is meritorious and another step toward fulfilling the promises we’ve made as a nation to our veterans and their families.”
The Honoring Our PACT Act would streamline the claims process the VA uses to provide health care and benefits to toxic-exposed veterans. Under its current structure, the VA currently denies at least 70 percent of disability claims related to burn pit exposures based on lack of evidence, scientific data, and information from the U.S. Department of Defense.
HR.3967 also includes provisions related to research, expanded medical facility leasing, and VA workforce improvements.
The Senate amended legislation with substitute language, which will require its reconsideration by the House of Representatives.
UPDATE (Aug. 2, 2022): U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today voted with the Senate to clear the PACT Act to be signed into law. The final 86-11 vote followed a series of failed votes on amendments to improve S.3373, the legislative vehicle for the PACT Act.
“A major expansion of VA benefits to help veterans exposed to toxins will become law. The legislative process worked and I’m honored to again vote for this bill,” Hyde-Smith said. “I appreciate the efforts to address the underlying budgetary issues in the bill, but know that we ultimately have a commitment to our veterans. The VA must now implement and deliver this help efficiently and thoroughly. Our veterans deserve nothing less.”