Biden To Announce PACT Act Milestone

  • Burn pits have had long-lasting, deadly effects on troops deployed overseas.
  • Congress passed the PACT Act to help those veterans and their survivors receive benefits. 
  • One million veterans and survivors have signed up for the benefits.
  • The legislation is named after a National Guard member who died in 2020.

( – After troops came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them started suffering unexplained health issues. They had rashes, difficulty breathing, eye irritation, and problems with their throats. In the worst cases, the veterans developed cancer, damage to their internal organs, and even died.

The Pentagon soon realized the burn pits were to blame. Those were massive pits where all of the waste from the base was burned, and the military used chemical accelerants, including jet fuel, to help feed the fires. Congress eventually passed a law after a high-pressure campaign from comedian Jon Stewart. President Joe Biden signed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, and now he’s celebrating a big milestone.

Major Milestone

On May 21, Biden traveled to Nashua, New Hampshire, to speak to veterans and their families at a local YMCA. He told those in attendance that the country could “never fully thank you for all the sacrifices” they made. The president said America’s motto was to “leave no veteran behind.” Biden highlighted his administration’s accomplishments to help veterans.

The White House also announced that one million veterans had signed up for the PACT Act. Over 888,000 veterans are receiving service-connected disability benefits for the injuries and health problems they are suffering from as a result of the burn pits and chemical exposure during previous wars.

The Legislation

The PACT Act provided money to give those veterans benefits and approved a list of ailments not previously recognized as being service-related. Before the law went into effect, military members could not receive covered treatment or disability pay.

The legislation was named after Heath M. Robinson, a veteran of the National Guard. He was exposed to the toxic chemicals from the pits while deployed as a combat medic. He later developed Stage 4 adenocarcinoma, lung cancer, and a rare autoimmune mucous membrane disease. His doctors said the diseases were caused by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals. He’s been near the burn pits in both Kosovo and Iraq.

When it became clear that Robinson was going to die, he made it his mission to make sure his fellow veterans received the care they were entitled to. He began a movement that Jon Stewart got involved in, just like the comedian did with the 9/11 First Responders bill. Eventually, Congress passed the legislation, but not before Robinson died on May 6, 2020, when he was just 39 years old.

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