An Act honoring an Ohio veteran passes in Congress and is now waiting for President Biden’s signature.
The PACT Act helps veterans with toxic exposures during their time in service
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) -
An Act honoring a central Ohio veteran just passed in Congress and is now waiting for President Biden’s signature.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, or PACT Act, was named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a combat medic who died from a rare form of lung cancer.
The PACT Act fights to strengthen health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving their country.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown took an active role in getting this act passed.
The PACT Act strengthens services provided to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while in the service, According to the White House.
Retired Sergeant First Class Donald Sandy said that this is an issue that needed to be addressed.
“There’s all sorts of breathing issues from Iraq and Afghanistan from the burn pits, the dust, from everything.”
Sandy served time overseas and was directly exposed to the burn pits, dust, and sand.
He said that he’s had breathing issues since his first deployment.
“I use two inhalers a day. This one’s a maintenance type, and this ones an emergency rescue inhaler. I hit the maintenance one two times every morning. And the rescue inhaler is just as needed.”
According to Sandy, they burned everything in the pits… including trash, plastic, and batteries.
Soldiers had to make trips to the pits and depending on the weather, smoke could fill the air.
But Sandy said it wasn’t just the smoke but the dust too.
“The dust storms and the stuff like that. The ground over there is very polluted. And there’s a lot of metals and stuff in the dust and that’s had an effect too.”
According to the White House, the PACT act is the most significant expansion of benefits and services for veterans exposed to toxins in over 30 years. WVU has been conducting its own research. A WVU toxicologist said “The passage of this bill is a critical step in improving veteran health.”
Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown is the longest-serving Ohioan on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Brown has been an active part in trying to get the act passed and said Congress had to do this.
“If you take an oath as a member of the military to our country, we as members of Congress take an oath to provide your coverage and your care and to keep you healthy in every way possible.”
The Act went to congress last week, where it failed to pass the Senate.
Brown says a group of republicans switched their original votes calling it “too expensive.”
He said that in response, he spoke to several leaders and around 100 veterans camped out on the capitol grounds.
“Republican senators that voted ‘no’ heard it and we ended up with 86 votes out of 100 so it was pretty exciting.”
Brown said working on this was one of the most rewarding things he’s done.
“This was just an easy moral answer. It was a clear policy answer. It was our responsibility. And we eventually did it. It should have happened faster, but we did it.
Sandy encourages veterans to get on the registry and get their breathing tests done.
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