From the Office of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is notifying New Mexico veterans that Oct. 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs will expand and extend eligibility for VA health care for certain Veterans of the Vietnam War, Gulf Wars and post-9/11 era under the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
This expansion increases health care eligibility for generations of toxic-exposed Veterans, giving them access to the health care they’ve earned and deserve.
Sen. Heinrich, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, helped champion the bipartisan PACT Act into law, which authorizes one of the largest expansions of VA health care and benefits in U.S. history. Veterans can go to VA.gov/PACT to apply for health care or learn more about what this bill means for them and their families.
“This new law is about keeping our promise to our nation’s veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much for this country,” Heinrich said. “I am pleased to announce that beginning Oct. 1, VA will begin the process of expanding and extending their VA health care eligibilities under the new guidelines of the PACT Act. Finally, so many generations of veterans who were exposed to toxins through their service will receive the VA health care and benefits that they have long deserved.”
Beginning Oct. 1, Post-9/11 Veterans who did not previously enroll in VA health care will have a 1-year window to enroll if they:
- Served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War, or
- Served in a combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after Nov. 11, 1998, and
- Were discharged or released from active service between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013.
Also Oct. 1, the following groups of Veterans will be eligible for care:
- Veterans who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War. This includes Veterans who, in connection with service during such period, received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Service Specific Expeditionary Medal, Combat Era Specific Expeditionary Medal, Campaign Specific Medal, or any other combat theater award established by federal statute or executive order.
- Vietnam-era Veterans who served in the following locations and time periods: The Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai base between Jan. 9, 1962, and June 30, 1976; Laos between Dec. 1, 1965, and Sept. 30, 1969; Certain provinces in Cambodia between April 16, 1969, and April 30, 1969; Guam or American Samoa (or their territorial waters) between Jan. 9, 1962, and July 31, 1980; Johnston Atoll (or on a ship that called there) between Jan. 1, 1972, and Sept. 30, 1977.
While the expansion of PACT Act-related health care eligibility is staggered over the coming years, VA has made all conditions outlined in the PACT Act presumptive for benefits as of Aug. 10, the day President Biden signed the bill into law. Eligible Veterans and survivors are encouraged to apply for those benefits now at VA.gov/PACT.
More information about VA’s implementation of the PACT Act can be found in this fact sheet.