The House Veterans Affairs Committee would like to hear from veterans and troops about their environmental exposures during service in the U.S. army.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), is the Chairman of the Committee. An online survey for veteransAsk about their experiences with toxic exposure.
Just before Takano’s scheduled roundtable with veterans organizations on Wednesday, entitled “The True Cost Of Our Promise to Toxic Exposed Veteran”, Takano announced the need for assistance in gauging exposure.
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The survey seeks to determine the extent of exposure and health conditions that could be related to environmental pollutants. It also reveals the VA’s response to the situation.
Takano announced last week that “Your responses will allow the Committee to better understand veterans’ experiences in toxic exposure and how Congress could help ensure these veterans get the benefits they deserve.”
Takano is the main sponsor of the Honoring Our Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act, which would broaden veterans’ access to disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
23 diseases would be classified under the $282 billion legislation that is being proposed. They are thought to be related to environmental exposures on battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
It would also expand eligibility for veterans who have had difficulties applying for benefits, such as those who served as soldiers in Vietnam and have hypertension.
Unknown numbers of veterans from the Persian Gulf War, Vietnam, and post-9/11 are suffering from cancer, respiratory illness, and other diseases. Many believe these illnesses are due to their exposure to heavy metals, radiation, and chemicals during military service.
Jon Tester (Maine Democrat), chairman of Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced a measure similar to Takano’s. It is the estimated $223 Billion Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops or COST of War Act.
The roundtable will be conducted virtually, Takano stated in a press release on Thursday. This is an opportunity for members of the committee to “check in” with veterans groups and advocates about Congress’ “efforts to date in supporting those affected.
“We promised servicemembers that we would take care of them when they returned home from war. The [Congressional Budget Office]Takano stated, “The estimate is in — now we know the true price of that promise, so we cannot renege.” “We cannot pretend to save pennies when it is about covering the care of toxic exposed veterans.”
More than 65 Democrats and two Republicans, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania and Rep. Glenn Grothman from Wisconsin, have signed on to Takano’s bill as co-sponsors.
Fitzpatrick supported the legislation and other bills that would provide benefits for veterans who have been exposed to radiation. He stated that no veteran should die waiting to receive care.
“Our veterans deserve to be treated as heroes. Yet, the VA and [Department of Defense]”We will continue to deny their earned healthcare,” he stated in a statement last year.
The House hearing will be shown on the committee’s website website and its YouTube channel at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
— Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her Twitter @patriciakime
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