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1M+ Claims Granted Under New Vet Law   05/21 06:13

   President Joe Biden, intent on selling his legislative accomplishments this 
election year, will travel to New Hampshire on Tuesday to detail the impact of 
a law that helps veterans get key benefits as a result of burn pit or other 
toxic exposure during their service.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden, intent on selling his legislative 
accomplishments this election year, will travel to New Hampshire on Tuesday to 
detail the impact of a law that helps veterans get key benefits as a result of 
burn pit or other toxic exposure during their service.

   In raw numbers, more than 1 million claims have been granted to veterans 
since Biden signed the so-called PACT Act into law in August 2022, the 
administration said Tuesday. That amounts to about 888,000 veterans and 
survivors in all 50 states who have been able to receive disability benefits 
under the law.

   That totals about $5.7 billion in benefits given to veterans and their 
survivors, according to the administration.

   "The president, I think, has believed now for too long, too many veterans 
who got sick serving and fighting for our country had to fight the VA for their 
care, too," Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters on Monday.

   The PACT Act is relatively lower profile compared to the president's other 
legislative accomplishments -- such as a bipartisan infrastructure law and a 
sweeping tax, climate and health care package -- but it is one that is deeply 
personal for Biden.

   He has blamed burn pits for the brain cancer that killed his son Beau, who 
served in Iraq, and vowed repeatedly that he would get the PACT Act into law. 
Burn pits are where chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human 
waste were disposed of on military bases and were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

   But before the PACT Act became law, the Department of Veterans Affairs 
denied 70% of disability claims that involved burn pit exposure. Now, the law 
requires the VA to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were 
related to burn pit or other toxic exposure without the veterans having to 
prove the link.

 
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