Biden signs bill boosting veterans’ health care benefits, Veterans who got ailments as a result of their exposure to harmful compounds from burn pits on U.S. military facilities may now be eligible for expanded health care benefits.
Military veterans exposed to toxic chemicals will benefit from the PACT Act, which is named after Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson. Approximately 3.5 million veterans who may have been exposed to harmful chemicals are expected to be eligible for medical care.
Before signing the PACT Act, Vice President Biden said, “The PACT Act is the bare minimum we can do for the countless men and women, many of whom may be in this room for all I know, who suffered toxic exposure while serving our nation.” “This new law is significant. It’s a huge deal.”
“As expeditiously as feasible,” the president said, the Department of Veterans Affairs will process and resolve claims from veterans seeking medical attention.
It’s been a long time coming, but we finally got it done, he added.
There was strong bipartisan support in the Senate last week, only days after Republicans halted the bill from moving forward because of their concerns about how the benefits are paid for. House members voted in favor of the bill last month.
Comedian Jon Stewart was in attendance for the signing of the bill, and he praised the legislation and blasted Republicans for delaying its adoption. Thanking Stewart for his efforts on behalf of veterans, the president said, “We owe you huge,” and commended him for his efforts.
“We can never properly express our gratitude to the soldiers and their families who have served and sacrificed for our country. And this isn’t just exaggeration; it’s the truth “As Mr. Biden put it, “There is a debt that we must pay to you. You’re the skeleton of the team, and no one can break you. You are the steel. You are the very stuff of which our country is made.”
During his first State of the Union speech in March, Vice President Biden called on Congress to help veterans suffering from long-term health problems as a result of exposure to burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the signing ceremony for the burn pit legislation, Mr. Biden’s widow Danielle appeared with her daughter Brielle Robinson, who was a guest of the first lady Dr. Jill Biden.
Danielle Robinson, presenting Vice President Biden, stated, “Ours is just one story.” More than a thousand veterans are still battling burn pit infections today; sadly, far too many have died as a result of these ailments.”
While chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then as vice president, Mr. Biden recalled multiple trips to Iraq, where he saw the pollutants in the air from large pits where things such as tires, chemicals, and jet fuel were burnt on US bases near where troops slept and ate.
Our troops’ lungs were filled with poisonous smog that was there at all times, he claimed. “Many of our most physically fit and capable soldiers returned from combat changed. Headaches, tingling, vertigo, and cancer are just some of the symptoms people can suffer with.”
The president has hypothesized that his son Beau Biden’s health difficulties, who died of brain cancer in 2015, were caused in part by exposure to hazardous compounds from fire pits. For one year in 2009, Beau Biden, a major in the Army National Guard, was stationed in Iraq.
“I was going to get this done come hell or high water,” Mr. Biden remarked about the law.
Veterans and their families will no longer have to prove a service connection if they are diagnosed with any one of 23 diseases, including 11 respiratory-related conditions, various malignancies, or brain cancers, as a result of this legislation.
Republicans withdrew their support in a procedural vote, putting the bill’s passage in doubt despite bipartisan support. GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania opposed the package’s plan to transfer $400 billion in formerly discretionary military expenditure to the required status, but his efforts to alter the bill failed.
The blockade by Republicans brought veterans to the steps of the Senate to protest their opposition, and after days of braving the elements, the measure cleared with opposition from 11 members.