Tell the VA To Uphold The PACT Act Promise!

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Sponsor: The Veterans Site

Military veterans put their lives on the line for us. They deserve the health benefits they have earned with their sacrifice!


The Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act1 expands access to VA health care and benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxins during war2.

It was a hard fought battle to get this law passed, and the fight for these rights is not yet over.

The PACT Act seeks to expand VA benefits eligibility to more than 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to toxins during their military service, including illnesses resulting from exposures to toxic burns and Agent Orange3.

It also adds 23 conditions to the department's list of presumptive illnesses, meaning that veterans don't have to prove that their illness was due to military service4.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must now implement the legislation efficiently, while working through existing backlogs5.

The VA encourages veterans to apply for benefits and has created a web page to answer questions about who qualifies for benefits under the legislation6.

There are still concerns with how quickly our military veterans will begin to see the health benefits they've waited for so long, and rightfully deserve.

The PACT Act increases the VA's workload, which could increase the backlog of claims7.

The agency now requires forms for claims and appeals, for which there are three options8. A veteran can submit their appeals to an experienced adjudicator, who will take a fresh look at their case, or they can file with a VA regional office, which will review and assist with developing new evidence to support the claim.

Appeals decisions take more than two months to be processed, and even longer for subsequent appeals.

The PACT Act expands the VA's capacity to handle an increase in the number of claims by hiring on 2,000 claims processors, and authorizing funds from the American Rescue Plan to cover overtime, while investing in 31 major clinics and research facilities in 19 states9.

Yet, many veterans are still waiting. The current backlog includes claims from veterans of the Gulf War10.

The VA resolved in 2019 to work through the existing backlog by the end of 2022, a target that has since been pushed back to 20239.

What veterans need from the VA now is clear communication on the benefits they may qualify for, and how to receive that care as quickly as possible.

Help us support veterans who still need help by asking the VA to uphold its promise. Sign the petition and tell the VA to put veterans first as the PACT Act is implemented, delivering health care swiftly to those who need it most!

More on this issue:

  1. Rep. Mark Takano, 117th Congress (17 June 2021), "H.R.3967 - Honoring our PACT Act of 2022."
  2. The White House (10 August 2022), "Bills Signed: S. 3373."
  3. The White House (2 August 2022), "FACT SHEET: PACT Act Delivers on President Biden's Promise to America's Veterans."
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (12 August 2022), "Presumptive Disability Benefits."
  5. Amir Farooqi, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, (22 August 2022), "Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022."
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (12 August 2022), "The PACT Act and your VA benefits."
  7. Benjamin Krause, DisabledVeterans.org (15 August 2022), "PACT Act: Can VA Fight Off Future Backlog?"
  8. Nicole Ogrysko, Federal News Network (13 July 2021), "VA will miss its original 2022 deadline for resolving legacy appeals."
  9. Glen Gould, VA Claims Disability Help (28 June 2022), "The PACT ACT Explained: Toxic Exposure Veterans' Benefits."
  10. Robert Rivera, Hill & Ponton Disability Attorneys (9 February 2017), "Gulf War Registry Health Exam."
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The Pledge:

To the Secretary of Veterans Affairs,

The passage of the PACT Act is a tremendous milestone for veterans, and extends benefits eligibility to more than 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to toxins during their military service — including illnesses resulting from exposures to toxic burns and Agent Orange.

However, the influx of these new clams will undoubtedly strain the VA's resources.

Thousands of Gulf War veterans are still waiting on the benefits they rightfully earned with their sacrifices to our country, and hundreds of thousands more are about to be added to that backlog.

What veterans need from the VA now is clear communication on the benefits they may qualify for, and how to claim them.

I want to thank you for supporting the PACT Act and helping veterans live the lives they deserve with the health benefits they have earned, and ask for your continued commitment in putting the needs of veterans first as this law is implemented.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: