VA offers new help to veterans with toxic exposure through PACT Act

The passage of the PACT Act means veterans can visit a VA facility for a free screening if they were exposed to burn pits
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 4:22 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - With the recent passage of the PACT Act, millions of veterans exposed to toxic fumes now have more resources available to them through the department of veterans affairs.

“Veterans have started to call in and we’ve been taking information,” said Mary Ellis VA, physician and Acting Chief of Staff for the Tomah VA.

The VA is now required to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran receiving their services. They offer 20 more benefits to veterans with toxic exposures who served during the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-911 eras.

“Post 911 veterans particularly had exposures to what we call burn pits, and burn pits are very large areas of where waste was burned. various things were thrown in the pits and it created a lot of products of combustion so a lot of smoke a lot of particles,” said Ellis.

Veterans complete a screening. It asks about what they’ve been exposed to and what symptoms they may have. Ellis said the screening brought in by the PACT Act has made care more accessible to veterans.

“The important thing about this screening evolution is that it really removes the burden of proof on the veteran and just asks them to report any exposures that they are aware of,” said Ellis.

The VA is still making adjustments to the new services they offer.

“Right now we are just getting going with this but we’re anticipating that after October 1st we’ll see a huge uptick in the number of veterans to be screened and be part of this program,” said Ellis.

Access to the benefits, Ellis said, is well deserved.

“We want to honor our veterans, and they are entitled to the care that we can offer them and we feel this is very important to support our nation’s heroes. and we do look forward to helping veterans access the care and the benefits that they’ve earned and deserve,” said Ellis.

To learn more about the PACT Act benefits click here.

For a list of VA facilities in Wisconsin and their contact information click here.

If you are a veteran interested in becoming a member of the VA click here. Open enrollment starts October 1st.