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VA Urges Veterans To Get Screened Due To PACT Act Expansion

The veterans who are exposed to toxic substances and others are required to get themselves screened as per the PACT Law.

March 16, 2024

Instead of phasing the veterans in coverage, the VA is making more veterans with toxic exposure eligible to receive health care now. The VA healthcare system set up in Central Florida is making efforts to make the veterans sign up.

It is the last month only that this change took place. Here’s the announcement made by the Department of Veteran Affairs:

“Who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11 will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits.”

Besides this, the veterans who did not deploy but were exposed to toxic substances during their training or on active duty are also eligible for this.

The efforts are being made by the VA health system in Central Florida to get those veterans screened too. The recent PACT Act event held at Lake Baldwin VA Clinic saw 200 veterans signed up for this. Since the PACT was approved in 2022, it was the sixth such event in the region.

Dozens of VA staff were present at the event to help veterans with everything such as the benefits and screening for toxic substances. The spokesperson also revealed that some veterans showed up as walk-ins.

A 76-year-old Vietnam veteran named Dennis LaCour revealed the time when he was doused with Agent Orange from the plane flying over like a crop duster. As he was talking about seeing a neurologist, his hands were shaking especially after the other doctor said that he had Parkinson’s disease.

LaCour has been receiving the VA benefits but his agent Orange Exposure was not addressed until now. He said, “I’ll tell you. It makes me want to cry because I know some of my friends who died from this. And they were a lot, lot younger.”

The CEO of Orlando VA Healthcare System Timothy Cooke said more than 100,000 veterans have been screened locally out of which, only 46% of those have been found eligible under the PACT Act.

Cooke urges veterans not to wait. Cooke said, “And let’s add as many people to our health care system as are eligible and capable of coming to the VA. And that will give them the best health care that they can get. Because that means that now we’ve identified something that could impact their health long term today, versus waiting until something happens.”

President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act and made it a law in 2022. There were 23 presumptive conditions in the PACT Act including respiratory issues and cancers that the Department of Veteran Affairs tends to assume as service related instead of asking the veterans to prove it merely to get the disability and other benefits.

For every condition, the veterans are still asked to meet the service requirements no matter what. The conditions include the ones connected to toxic exposures such as a chemical used during the Vietnam War, Agent Orange, and Burn Pits where the military destroyed waste in Iraq and Afghanistan among others.

VA Health workers are required to conduct toxic exposure screenings for every veteran enrolled in the system as per the PACT law.

The veterans not only have to do initial screening but also need to do follow-up assessments at least once every five years. The Department of Veterans Affairs is now trying to sign up the veterans not enrolled in the VA health care so that they can also be screened.

Veterans and survivors who want to get additional information on how to get screened or simply to see if they are eligible for VA health care or not, can visit the official website.

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Byrnes Joe. “With a recent PACT Act expansion, the VA urges more veterans to get screened”. WUSF, March 16, 2024,
With a recent PACT Act expansion, the VA urges more veterans to get screened | WUSF

Last Updated: September 20, 2021