Congressman Vela Votes to Honor our Promise to Toxic-Exposed Veterans

Press Release

Date: March 4, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman Filemon Vela voted for H.R. 3967, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which will finally treat toxic exposure as a cost of war by addressing the full range of issues that impact toxic-exposed veterans, including access to earned benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This legislation passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 256-174.

The Honoring our PACT Act is a comprehensive legislative package that will open up healthcare services to over 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service and finally acknowledge the long term health effects of exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards. It will create presumptions for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers, shifting the burden of proof off our veterans. This means that if a veteran served in a particular theatre at a particular time, they will be presumed to have been exposed to toxic substances, making them potentially eligible for healthcare services and benefits. This bipartisan legislation will streamline the VA's decision making process for determining presumptions, minimizing the need for future Congressional intervention and ensuring veterans receive help more quickly.

"Our servicemembers sacrifice their lives to honor and protect our country, and it is our duty to provide the best resources for them when they return," said Rep. Vela. "That is why I voted yes on the bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act, to keep my promise and ensure all veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service can access the care and benefits they've earned. This bill is the comprehensive legislation we need to finally recognize military toxic exposure as a cost of war once and for all."