Veterans healthcare

Senate Passes Bill Providing Medical Coverage to Veterans for Combustion Hearth Afflictions

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to provide care for veterans with conditions related to fire pits used overseas by the military. The bill is now going to the House, where it is expected to be passed and sent to President Joe Biden for signature. Photo taken by Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot/US Marine Corps/UPI | License picture

June 16 (UPI) — The Senate on Thursday passed a bill requiring the government to cover health costs for veterans exposed to toxic burns during their military service.

The bill passed by 84 votes to 14, with two abstentions.

The Honoring our PACT Act allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to now consider a veteran with one of 23 conditions of care if they had been deployed to a combat zone during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The bill is expected to pass a final vote in the House next week before heading to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“This bill will provide expanded access to health care and disability benefits for veterans injured by certain toxic exposures, whether in the jungles of Vietnam or the mountains of Afghanistan,” Biden said in a statement. statement issued by the White House.

“It will also enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to act more quickly and comprehensively in the future to determine if illnesses are service-related, and it will provide critical support to survivors who have been injured by exposures.” , Biden said.

“Importantly, the bill includes the tools and resources necessary to ensure the VA can implement it effectively.”

“Veterans suffering from toxic exposure have relied on a broken system cobbled together over decades of patchwork fixes that often leave them without health care or benefits,” tweeted the sponsor of the bill, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran.

Bill is named after the late Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 after being exposed to toxic pits during his military service while deployed to Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard.

Biden made the initiative a priority after his son’s death. Beau Biden, a member of the Army National Guard and Delaware attorney general, died of brain cancer in 2015.

During a Memorial Day address to members of the military, the president said he suspected the cancer was the result of the poisonous combustion pits the military used to burn waste. Beau Biden served in Iraq.

“I urge the House to quickly pass this bill so that I can sign it into law immediately,” Biden said in his statement Thursday.