American veterans secure another victory with passing of PACT Act

The PACT Act is making its way to the president’s desk
American veterans secured another victory following primary election
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The bullets and bombs are the most immediate threat to soldiers in a war zone, but many of our men and women in uniform face a threat that’s just as deadly when they get home.

Congress passed a bill Tuesday to provide treatment to service members exposed to burn pits and dangerous chemicals.

Background: Senate approves bill to aid vets exposed to toxic burn pits

“It’s a chance for those who served their country to get the help they’ve been needing,” said Kevin Hensley.

Hensley served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was deployed eight times from 1996 to 2013. He said everything from - lead paint, medical waste even body parts - could be found in a burn pit.

Hensley was exposed to the fumes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 2006, he got sick.

“And I was having problems even maintaining my physical fitness run. I used to be able to run 10k’s, 5k’s, half marathons, full marathons,” said Hensley.

Hensley was diagnosed with asthma, but his wife was sure it was something worse. A lung biopsy led to a diagnosis of constrictive bronchiolitis - a terminal disease. He now spends about $30,000 out-of-pocket for health care.

Before the PACT Act passed, only Vietnam veterans - who’ve served in country - were taken care of. Now, veterans who’ve served in other places - like Thailand -are getting the help they need too.

“In Thailand, the bases where a lot of Agent Orange were flown from, which [was] the base I was stationed at, they flew Agent Orange out of there,” said Reinold Yahnka, State Deputy Chief of Staff for the VFW Department of Michigan.

“If you’re a veteran and you were serving in a combat zone or a military base state-side where there [were] toxins, this basically opens up the door for veterans who have illnesses, whether it’s cancer or other types of illnesses,” said Derek Blumke, State Adjutant and Quartermaster for the VFW Department of Michigan.

And now, it will be presumed that those illnesses are related to their service. The PACT Act adds 23 illnesses to the list of conditions eligible for treatment. More information can be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ official website here.

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