Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Exposed to Environmental Toxins in the Military? A House Committee Wants to Hear from You


The House Veterans Affairs Committee wants to hear from troops and veterans about their environmental exposures while serving in the U.S. military.

Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., has set up an online survey for veterans asking about what they've experienced as effects of toxic exposure.

The request for help gauging the impact of exposure was announced just before Takano's planned roundtable with veterans organizations Wednesday, titled "The True Cost of our Promise to Toxic Exposed Veterans."

The survey seeks info on the extent of exposure, health conditions possibly related to environmental pollutants, the VA's response and what lawmakers can do to help affected veterans.

"Your responses will help the Committee better understand veterans' experiences with toxic exposure and how Congress can help ensure these veterans receive the benefits they have earned and deserve," Takano wrote in an announcement last week.

Takano is the lead sponsor of the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, or PACT, Act, which would broadly expand affected veterans' access to health care disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The $282 billion proposed legislation would designate 23 diseases as presumed to be related to battlefield environmental exposures in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It also would expand eligibility to veterans who have faced challenges applying for benefits, including those who served in Vietnam and have hypertension, as well as Vietnam-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other defoliants outside the war zone.

An unknown number of post-9/11, Persian Gulf War and Vietnam-era veterans are suffering from respiratory illnesses, cancer and other diseases that many believe are related to exposure to chemicals, radiation and heavy metals during their military service.


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