Are You Eligible for VA Health Benefits? , sponsored

On August 10, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heather Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address the Comprehensive Toxic Substances Act (PACT Act). The PACT Act is one of the largest health care and benefits expansions in the history of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The PACT Act will help the VA provide generations of veterans and their survivors with the services they have earned and deserve.

What is PACT Act?

The PACT Act expands VA health care eligibility to veterans with toxic exposure to toxic substances during Vietnam, the Gulf War and the post-9/11 era. Treaty Act:

  • Adds over 20 new predicted conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures.
  • Adds more presumptive risk space for Agent Orange and radiation.

What is Toxic Exposure?

The term “toxic exposure” refers to a subset of military environmental exposures. Whether an exposure is “toxic” is determined by four factors: the substance, the concentration of exposure, the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, etc.), and the duration of exposure. Veterans may have experienced a number of potential risks or hazards during their military service:

  • chemicalsHerbicides (Agent Orange) used during the Vietnam War, burn pits and sulfur fires in Iraq, the water supply at Camp Lejeune during specific time periods, pesticides used during Operation Desert Storm, and depleted uranium and exposure to industrial solvents
  • air pollutants: Burn pits in Iraq, set oil wells on fire and sulfur fires. Additional air pollutants may include exposure to Atsugi (Japan) waste incinerators, or sand, dust, and very small, fine particles or liquid droplets
  • occupational hazards: asbestos, industrial solvents, lead, radiation, vibration, noise, fuels, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and special paints used on military vehicles
  • radiation: exposure to nuclear weapons and testing, X-rays, and/or depleted uranium
  • war agent: chemical weapons, Project 112/Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), herbicide testing and storage, and chemical experiments

What does it mean to have a predictive status for toxic exposure?

The VA disability rating requires a veteran’s disability to be associated with military service. For some conditions, you may need to prove your connection to the service. But for other conditions, the VA assumes that your service caused your condition. These are called “estimated positions”.

The PACT Act includes new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures. To see a complete list of the new estimated statuses and estimated risk service locations, visit The PACT Act and Your VA Benefits at

for Vietnam-era veterans

Vietnam-era veterans who served in the following locations and time periods are eligible to apply for enrollment:

  • Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975
  • Thailand at any US or Royal Thai base between January 9, 1962 and June 30, 1976
  • Laos between 1 December 1965 and 30 September 1969
  • Some provinces of Cambodia between April 16, 1969 and April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoa (or their territorial waters) between January 9, 1962 and July 31, 1980
  • Johnston Atoll (or a ship that called there) between January 1, 1972 and September 30, 1977

for Gulf War-era veterans

Gulf War veterans who served on active duty in combat operations following Operation Desert Storm may be eligible to enroll in VA health care. This also includes ex-servicemen who received the following awards or recognition in respect of service during this period:

  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • Distinguished Service Campaign Medal
  • Combat Era Distinguished Service Medal
  • Expeditionary Distinguished Expeditionary Medal
  • Any other war theater award established by federal statute or executive order.

for post 9/11 veterans

Post-9/11 veterans discharged before October 1, 2013, may enroll in VA health care during a special one-year enrollment period between October 1, 2022, and October 1, 2023. To be eligible, one of the following must be true:

  • He served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during the period of the war following Operation Desert Storm, or
  • He served in combat against a hostile force during the period of hostilities after November 11, 1998.

Truman VA, located at 800 Hospital Drive, Columbia, Missouri

If you’d like to find out if you qualify for VA health care, contact Truman VA enrollment specialists today by calling (573) 814-6535.


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