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Sen. Sherrod Brown talks PACT Act, encourages Ohio veterans to sign up for benefits

Veterans stand in the center of the grounds, surrounded by American flags.
Veterans stand in the center of the grounds, surrounded by American flags.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is encouraging Ohio veterans to see if they qualify for new health benefits. These benefits come from the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act.

The act, which was signed into law in August, expands health benefits to veterans who have suffered from exposure to toxic substances while serving.

“If you’re exposed to toxins while serving our country, you deserve the benefits you earned, period,” Sen. Brown said.

The PACT Act expands VA health care to include toxic exposure as a “cost of war.” This includes exposure to burn pits and substances like Agent Orange.

It also expands and extends this eligibility to veterans in wars from Vietnam to the post-9/11 era. 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s presumption list and provides every veteran a toxic exposure screening at VA medical appointments.

This makes it easier for veterans to apply for medical benefits. It also means more veterans have better access to health care, which could save lives.

“This law is the most comprehensive expansion of benefits for veterans who face toxic exposure, the most comprehensive expansion in our country’s history,” Sen. Brown said.

The full name of the bill is the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022. It’s named in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, an Ohio veteran exposed to burn pits in Kosovo and Iraq.

Robinson died in 2020 from cancer after this exposure.

Burn pits were sites where the U.S. military burned trash on bases established post-9/11. This trash could range from classified papers to old computers and medical waste, producing toxic smoke. Soldiers breathed this smoke in daily, and many have reported health problems after returning home.

To learn if you qualify for any benefits, you can visit va.gov/PACT.

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.