In August of 2022 the President of the United States signed into law the PACT Act, the most sweeping legislation in regards to Veteran benefits in three plus decades. This legislation will provide healthcare and disability benefits to hundreds of thousands of Veterans who served in hostile locations across the globe. It is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances and adds to the list of health conditions that are presumed to be caused by exposure to these substances.
On April 1, 2023, multiple veterans affairs groups organized a town hall at the A-B Tech Conference Center to help veterans in WNC. Charles George VA partnered with Vietnam Veterans of America and the North Carolina State Council to host a Toxic Exposure/PACT Act Veterans Town Hall. At the event, veterans received assistance with signing up for healthcare benefits, filing disability claims, and completing toxic exposure screenings.
According to the VA website, the PACT Act will bring these changes:
- Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
- Adds 20+ more presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures
- Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
- Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
The PACT Act also includes benefits for surviving family members of a Veteran including a monthly VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) payment, a one-time accrued benefits payment, or a survivors pension. More information on the PACT Act can be found here.
Buncombe County residents who think that they could be eligible for the PACT Act should contact the Buncombe County Veterans Service Office (VSO). Buncombe County Veterans Services Supervisor, Heath Smith, gave a presentation about the PACT Act at the town hall event. Navigating benefits eligibility can be a challenge which is why Smith encourages people to contact their local VSO. Smith says, “If you think that a health condition is due to your time in service, get in touch with your local Veterans Service Office and they will guide you through the benefits that you might be entitled to. We encourage people to contact a Veterans Service Officer to learn more about this new legislation.”
In Buncombe County, Veterans Service Officers can be reached by calling (828) 250-5726. Our Veterans Services team will be happy to assist you with questions you might have about the PACT Act and other benefits that you and your relatives could qualify for.
Click here to watch the video of Heath Smith's presentation at the Town Hall.
Click here for WLOS coverage of the event.