A new bill has been approved to treat the millions of veterans who have become ill from burn pit exposure.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 84-14 in favor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson honoring our promise to address comprehensive toxicities (PACT Act of 2022). This bill was approved by a majority vote and represents the most comprehensive veterans health care reform. It establishes a presumptive connection for veterans who have been seriously ill from inhaling toxic fumes at their bases abroad, including Afghanistan.
The passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act is the culmination of decades-long efforts by veterans and their families to ensure that the U.S. government provides proper treatment for severe illness suffered by service personnel after returning home from war.
Jon Feal, who lobbied with Stewart for veterans and helped to pass the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund in Washington, stated that the Honoring Our PACT Act would ensure that military personnel finally receive proper treatment. This $278 billion piece of legislation will help bring relief to the 3.5 million veterans who may have been affected by the fire pits. This is historic.
Stewart became interested in lobbying after meeting Rosie Torres. Rosie Torres started Burn Pits 360 with her husband LeRoy Torres over a decade ago. Stewart had returned from the Iraq War with many health problems due to prolonged exposure to the burn pits at his Balad base.
Fox News’ Investigative Unit has extensively reported on the many illnesses caused by veterans being exposed to burn pits. Many veterans claimed that the pits were a primitive method of incineration, in which all waste, including plastics and batteries, was burned. These items were often ignited with jet fuel as an accelerant.
Over 1,000 chemical compounds were burned in the pits every day. Service personnel inhaled toxic fumes without any protection.
One of the many who died from exposure to them is the namesake of Honoring Our PACT Act.
Heath Robinson was suspected to have developed mucus membrane penicillinoid, a rare autoimmune disorder. He was exposed to burn pits while on a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq with the Ohio National Guard. Robinson was able to receive assistance while he was still in the military. However, Danielle Robinson, his wife and Susan Zeier, her mother, were long-standing advocates for veterans.
The Honoring Our PACT Act, a major piece of legislation, will benefit the three million veterans who have been diagnosed with rare cancers, lung disease, or other respiratory diseases. The current law requires veterans with burn pit exposure-related illnesses or disabilities to establish a connection to the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to be eligible for benefits. This is a difficult task.
The Senate approved the bill and it will now be sent back to the House. It had already voted in favor in March before being passed to President Biden for him to sign it into law.
“When young men or women choose to serve our country, they rightly expect that their country will take good care of them when their time is up,” Senator Marco Rubio (R.FL), who was a key sponsor of this bill, stated in a statement to Fox News. It took us far too long to pass this bill, but we didn’t give up on our veterans. They have never lost heart for our country. I hope that the House will swiftly pass this bill so President Biden may finally sign it into law.
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Biden spoke out in support of new legislation and his son Beau. He believes Beau may have been exposed after he returned from 2001 military service.
Although the Senate passed the Honoring our PACT Act, it is an important milestone. However, advocates believe there is much to be done to ensure all veterans who have been exposed to burn pits are treated properly.
Rosie Torres said that she feels relieved after having fought for veterans’ rights for so many years.