A public forum to address U.S. military veteran’s exposure to toxic substances will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, in the conference room at the Thompson Home Public Library, 125 W. Center St. in Ithaca.
The meeting will focus on the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins, or PACT Act, passed by Congress in August.
The new law significantly expands Department of Veterans Affairs health care for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other toxins during the Vietnam War and exposure to burn pits during the Middle East wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among several other types of exposures.
In addition, it also eases access to health care not only for veterans but also for family members suffering health issues often resulting from parental exposures.
The PACT Act is one of the most extensive health care and benefit reforms ever developed by the VA.
The law includes the following changes:
-Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for veterans with toxic exposures.
-Adds more than 20 new “presumptive conditions” related to toxic exposures to VA benefits.
-Recognizes new potential Agent Orange and radiation exposure locations.
-Requires the VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran beginning in November.
The forum will not only provide information on the PACT Act and summarize what it covers, but also review some of the concerns regarding issues not covered in the legislation, such as why some chronic exposures resulting from toxins in war were not included.
While some provisions of the law take effect at different times, the VA considers the presumptive conditions established in the PACT ACT to be applicable on the date it was signed. All veterans and their survivors who believe they may be entitled to benefits are encouraged to apply immediately either online, by mail using VA Form 10-10EZ or in person at their local VA office.
The free event is the latest in Alma College’s Reid-Knox Public Forum series held to engage people on policy issues and to encourage voting.
All who attend will receive copies of the official VA summary of the law.
For more details about the forum call 989-463-6170.
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