SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — On Thursday, Aug. 10, President Biden visited the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center to discuss the PACT Act on its one-year anniversary of being signed into law.
The PACT Act, or the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act, aims to provide timely benefits and services to more than five million veterans who may have been impacted by toxic exposures during service from burn pits.
Terry Schow, a service officer with the American Legion, attended the meeting and spoke with the president. He said meeting and shaking the president’s hand was an honor.
According to Schow, the PACT Act is one of the most significant pieces of veteran legislation he has seen in his life.
Schow said that the deadline to file a PACT Act claim has been extended from Aug. 9 to Aug. 14, which is “a great benefit to veterans and their families.”
He encouraged veterans to call 1-800-827-1000 and say they intend to file a VA claim. This is important, according to Schow, because then veterans have a year to actually file the claim.
Schow recognized the VA system can be confusing and complex, and is happy to help veterans and their families apply for benefits.
“To me, it’s an honor,” he said.
Angela Romero, Minority Leader of the Utah House of Representatives, also attended that meeting.
She said it was monumental and touching to hear President Biden speak on the PACT Act, as she has a family history of military service.
Romero is the incoming president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She said she was able to talk to Presiden Biden’s campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of César Chávez, about the importance of the Latino vote and inclusivity.
Romero said President Biden took the time to meet with people, which she said was powerful and uniting.
“It was gratifying to see us have a place at the table and to be able to see the president talk about issues that are important to everyone,” she said.