‘Timely access to care and benefits’: VA department makes promise to military veterans battling cancer due to exposure

‘Don’t wait’: Veteran exposed to burn pits now on track to get care after PACT Act enacted

Military veterans battling cancer because they were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances, will have their benefits claims expedited to ensure they get “timely access to care and benefits.” That was the promise made by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday -- which was National Cancer Awareness Day.

The PACT Act was signed into law Aug. 10, 2022, and expanded the list of health conditions – including various cancers -- that are assumed to have been caused by exposure to toxins while serving. The expanded list simplifies the claims process by eliminating the need to establish a link between a veteran’s service and the claimed condition. The new law not only allows more veterans to receive benefits, but also surviving family members – including spouses, dependent children or a parent of a veteran who died from a service-connected disability.

RESOURCES: PACT Act and your VA benefits | VA hiring to process PACT Act claims

“We are working hard to get benefits to all veterans who qualify under the PACT ACT as soon as possible, and veterans living with cancer are at particular risk,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. “Expediting claims for these Vets will ensure that they get the care and benefits they need and so rightly deserve.”

Nearly 125,000 PACT Act-related claims have been filed, and nearly 14,000 of those claims are for cancers the PACT Act covers. VA said it will begin processing all PACT Act-related claims Jan. 1, 2023 and is hiring at 56 regional offices and 39 other special processing and call centers in anticipation of the surge in new claims.

For more information about the PACT Act and how to file a claim online, click here. VA says veterans, family members, caregivers or survivors who would like to speak with someone for help may call 1-800-MyVA411.