FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Veterans across the country are now eligible for a number of new healthcare benefits related to exposure to toxic chemicals. President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act into law Wednesday.
Leroy Farmer spent 13 years in the army. While he was deployed, he like many others, encountered burn pits.
“I was very close to the burn pits in Baqubah, and I’ve had rhinitis the whole time I’ve been home,” said Farmer.
After years of searching for a solution, it’s finally here.
“In a way we feel vindicated that we weren’t just crying fowl for all these years having problems with our Respiratory systems over the burn pits,” said Farmer
Following Biden signing the PACT ACT, veterans impacted for generations by toxic chemicals can finally get that needed aid.
“Not only did it assist the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans by making a whole lot of presumptive locations and service periods and illnesses, but it also assisted with the vietnam era guys and some of their agent orange presumptives,” said Afghanistan combat veteran, Stephen Wright.
Wright was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. He was a broadcast combat correspondent. He said most service members came into contact with burn pits. Now, over 20 presumptive medical conditions have been added to the list to qualify for aid.
“I myself was one of those veterans that was not service-connected or didn’t qualify, but now there’s no denying it,” said Wright.
He urges vets who have been denied benefits in the past to see if they qualify now. You can reach out to a local VFW or to a veterans service officer.
Wright said he’s grateful to congress and citizens in the U.S. who have stood up for veterans to get this bill passed.
“It’s kind of a thank you to myself and other veterans, and I just want them to know that it’s greatly appreciated. It won’t be forgotten,” said Wright.