While we can never fully repay the enormous debt we owe to those who have worn the uniform, today, the United States Congress took important action to meet this sacred obligation. The bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 is the biggest expansion of benefits for service-connected health issues in 30 years and the largest single bill ever to comprehensively address exposure to burn pits.
I called for this legislation in my State of the Union address, as part of my Unity Agenda to help bring together our nation. Congress has delivered a decisive and bipartisan win for America’s veterans. I want to thank Chair Tester and Ranking Member Moran as well as Chair Takano and Ranking Member Bost for their tireless work to pass this major reform, and the courageous veterans and advocates whose tenacity and heart ensured this legislation got done.
For the millions of veterans who may have been exposed to harmful toxins, this bill means quicker access to health care services and other benefits. This could be the difference between life and death for many suffering from toxic related illnesses. For the spouse or child of a servicemember who died from toxic exposure, struggling to put their lives back together, this bill will be a lifeline. It means a monthly stipend for a surviving spouse and kids, and access to tuition benefits to help cover the cost of college. It means access to life insurance, home loan assistance, and help with health care. It matters.
I have long said we have a lot of obligations as a nation, but we have only one sacred obligation – to prepare and equip those we send to war and to take care of them and their families when they come home.
I look forward to signing this bill, so that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve.