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Biden to speak with veterans about the expanded health care benefits of the PACT Act

President Biden will visit a Delaware National Guard facility named for his late son on Friday as he encourages veterans to take advantage of new health care opportunities under legislation he signed in August. He is hosting a public meeting with veterans and survivors of veterans at noon.

The law, known as the PACT Act, helps veterans get tested for toxin exposure. These include Agent Orange, which was used for deforestation during the Vietnam War, and burn pits, where trash was destroyed at military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The administration has been hosting dozens of events across the country to draw attention to the new benefits. More than 730,000 veterans have already received exams, according to the White House.

Beau Biden, the president’s eldest son, served as a major in the Delaware National Guard. He died of brain cancer in 2015, and the president has suggested that exposure to the burning pits at his base in Iraq may have been the cause.

While the president isn’t sure the burns caused his son’s brain cancer, in his 2022 State of the Union addressthe president vowed to “find out as much as we can” and protect veterans suffering from service-connected illnesses.

legislation, Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act) was passed by Congress after years of advocacy by veterans. Before the law, about three-quarters of disability claims related to exposure to combustion pits were denied by the government.

In addition to screening, the Department of Veterans Affairs is required by law to assume that some respiratory diseases and cancers are related to burn areas. This allows veterans to receive disability benefits without having to prove direct causation.

In January, the The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin processing all claims for benefits related to the PACT Act. The VA has already begun processing claims for terminally ill veterans and has said it will expedite the processing of claims filed by veterans with cancer so they can receive care and benefits quickly.

As the law expands eligibility to an estimated 3.5 million more veterans, the VA has hired more than 2,000 employees to help administer benefits and plans to hire more in the coming months.

“As more veterans and survivors apply for their PACT Act benefits, we expect an increase in inventory and hoarding in the near term,” Joshua Jacobs, a senior VA official, told members of Congress during testimony on Capitol Hill. this month.

Beau Biden died as a result of his cancer in May 2015. Sunday also marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the president’s first wife, Neilia, and their young daughter, Naomi, who were killed in a car accident in 1972.

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