In legislative history, few acts could transform lives as profoundly as the PACT Act has for Camp Lejeune Veterans. The journey of these veterans, marked by adversity stemming from water contamination, underwent a remarkable evolution with the enactment of this legislation.
Military.com notes that following the enactment of the PACT Act, significant strides have been made by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It resulted in extending the department’s benefits and healthcare provisions to a considerable number of veterans. As veterans begin to manifest illnesses associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures, more are expected to meet the qualifying criteria.
Notably, the department has disbursed a total of $1.85 billion in disability compensation and related benefits to 340,754 eligible veterans and their survivors. This figure is poised to grow, with pending claims numbering around half a million, alongside applications from an additional 1.65 million veterans who have signaled their intent to file in the preceding year.
In this article, we will understand how the PACT Act breathed new life into the lives of Camp Lejeune Veterans.
What is the PACT Act?
The PACT Act, or the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act, was passed in 2022. It broadens VA benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances, including Agent Orange, burn pits, and other chemicals.
The PACT Act is named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson. The sergeant died in 2020 from cancer that was linked to his exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Robinson was a vocal advocate for veterans affected by water contamination, and he worked tirelessly to get the PACT Act passed.
Recently, according to a report by 9News, President Joe Biden celebrated in Utah the one-year-old law. This law brought about the most significant expansion of veterans’ benefits in decades. On August 11, he commemorated his late son and commended bipartisan leaders for their united support for veterans. The occasion centered around the PACT Act.
The PACT Act is a landmark piece of legislation that has had a significant impact on the lives of Camp Lejeune veterans. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the veterans who fought for this legislation. It is also a reminder that the government has a responsibility to take care of its service members.
The Pact Act Expanded the Scope of Compensable Conditions
The PACT Act expanded the list of conditions that veterans can be compensated for if they were exposed to contaminated water. This means that more veterans are now eligible for benefits, including disability payments and medical care.
Here are some of the conditions that are now presumptively linked to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune:
- Cancer: This includes a wide range of cancers, such as bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Neurological disorders: This includes conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- Skin conditions: This includes conditions such as chloracne, psoriasis, and eczema.
- Respiratory problems: This includes conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Birth defects: This includes conditions such as cleft lip and palate, neural tube defects, and intellectual disabilities.
The VA news reports that the PACT Act brings about a revolutionary change for veterans requiring cancer care. This legislation empowers the delivery of top-tier cancer treatment to those in need.
The act also bolsters the Cancer Moonshot initiative designed to tackle rare cancers. Such cancers constitute roughly 25% of all cancer cases within the VA. If a veteran receives a diagnosis of rare cancer or common cancer characterized by atypical symptoms, the VA can offer comprehensive support.
The Pact Act Made It Easier for Veterans to File Claims
The PACT Act made it easier for veterans to file claims for benefits related to Camp Lejeune exposure in several ways. First, it reduced the amount of paperwork that veterans had to submit. Under the PACT Act, veterans only need to submit a simple form to apply for benefits.
Second, the PACT Act eliminated the requirement for veterans to prove that their health problems were caused by exposure to contaminated water. Under the PACT Act, veterans are presumed to have been injured by exposure to contaminated water. That is if they served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days.
Third, the PACT Act created a new process for veterans to file claims for benefits related to Camp Lejeune exposure. Under this process, veterans can file their claims directly with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This process is much faster than the previous process, which required veterans to file their claims with the Department of Defense.
Furthermore, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was included in the PACT Act. The Justice Act specifically addresses the issue of veterans who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
ToHoerman Law notes that the Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows veterans of Camp Lejeune to file a federal tort claim against the government. The veterans can claim damages if they developed a health condition as a result of the water contamination.
The Camp Lejeune lawsuit payout per person is projected to range between $10,000 and $500,000, contingent upon the evidentiary strength of each case. It’s essential to note that these estimates for Camp Lejeune settlement figures are approximate. They are drawn from the budget allocated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for addressing Camp Lejeune’s claims.
The Pact Act Provided Funding for Research
The PACT Act provided funding for research on the health effects of Camp Lejeune exposure. This research is helping to better understand the long-term health risks of exposure to contaminated water. It is also helping in the development of new treatments for veterans who have been affected.
The research is filling in the gaps in our knowledge about the health effects of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The Pact Act Has Raised Awareness
The PACT Act has raised awareness of the Camp Lejeune water contamination scandal in several ways. First, it has been the subject of widespread media coverage. Second, it has been the focus of public awareness campaigns. Third, it has been the subject of congressional hearings.
The media coverage of the PACT Act has helped to bring the Camp Lejeune water contamination scandal to the public’s attention. This has helped to ensure that veterans who were exposed to contaminated water are not forgotten. It also resulted in pressure on the government to take responsibility for its actions.
The public awareness campaigns about the PACT Act have also helped to raise awareness of the Camp Lejeune water contamination scandal. These campaigns have been conducted by veterans’ organizations, environmental groups, and other organizations. They have helped to educate the public about the scandal and to demand justice for the veterans who were affected.
As we end our journey through the transformational impact of the PACT Act on the lives of Camp Lejeune Veterans, we stand in awe. The legislation has ushered in profound changes. The narrative we’ve explored is one of resilience, recognition, and a resounding commitment to righting past wrongs.
The PACT Act’s legacy is etched in the stories of veterans who now find themselves on a path of healing and hope. From improved healthcare access to streamlined claims, the act’s effects ripple far beyond legislative chambers. It has provided veterans with a renewed sense of purpose, a restored dignity, and a promise of a brighter future.