As of the first week of 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs had screened 1 million veterans for exposure to toxins. As part of the PACT Act, signed last summer, they pulled out all the stops to get this done. If you’re one of the million who stepped up to get your screening, well done. If you haven’t, don’t let this opportunity pass by.

The PACT Act expands benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxins from Agent Orange and other chemicals, as well as from burn pits, Camp Lejeune water, radiation and others. The damage from those can take years to surface in your health. You might have been turned down in the past if you filed a claim, but the PACT Act opens a big new door: You no longer have to prove that your illness was caused by toxic chemicals. It will be assumed that it was based on your service in that location.

If you’ve never received VA health care, you can still qualify for this screening. Call them. They’re doing screenings at VA facilities across the country, and it takes about 10 minutes. It’s better to get going with the VA now rather than wait until down the road when a health issue might crop up. Get the screening; get your information on file. Benefits will be backdated to the time the bill was signed, so don’t delay.

Survivors of a veteran also might be eligible for the benefits -- either a monthly payment or a one-time payment -- for a surviving spouse, dependent child or dependent parents.

To learn more about the PACT Act, go to You can also call them at 800-698-2411. Or call 800-827-1000 for help applying.

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