SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Some Utah veterans are eligible for additional benefits and local advocates are trying to spread the word.
The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA healthcare and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances.
“It eliminates a lot of the burden on veterans to prove that they were exposed. So, if you are in one of those locations that we list and we say that you were exposed to it then we automatically grant a condition for the PACT Act,” said Salt Lake City VA regional office director Chris Holly.
Once that happens, it opens up a wide range of benefits for veterans and their families.
“Their healthcare, healthcare for their dependents, it can open up a lot of education benefits for their dependents. There is also a birth defects and spina bifida program we have for dependents of folks who were exposed to Agent Orange,” said Holly.
Signing up can seem overwhelming, but local organizations have service officers standing by.
“Who will help a veteran and their family for free, there is no charge to do this. I think the easiest way to do it is to go through a service officer,” said Terry Schow with the American Legion.
Veterans who have been denied in the past are encouraged to try again.
“There are new presumptive conditions that weren’t there before, so this opens up a whole new realm for them,” said Salt Lake City VA PACT Act coordinator Amy Waite.
But, there is a deadline coming up in August.