Tester Holds Press Conference in Billings Ahead of Memorial Day on Historic Toxic Exposure Legislation
Chairman highlighted urgent need to pass his Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022
Ahead of Memorial Day, U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held a press conference in Billings alongside Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and area veterans to unveil his bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022—comprehensive legislation championed by the Senator to deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits for the first time in the nation’s history.
“Named after a veteran who died from exposure to a toxic burn pit, this bipartisan bill will address decades of inaction and failure by the U.S. government to do the right thing by delivering toxic-exposed veterans their long-overdue health care and benefits,” said Chairman Tester. “The bottom line is more than 60,000 veterans in Montana may have been exposed to toxic substances during their service. That’s nearly two-thirds of all Montana veterans. And right now—they’re the ones paying the price. Words alone cannot help them…that’s why I won’t stop fighting until we get this done on behalf of our past, present, and future veterans.”
Among its many priorities, this legislation will expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand VA’s list of service presumptions, and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.
Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He has long been dedicated to identifying a path forward for unaddressed toxic exposure issues alongside Veterans Service Organizations—remaining committed to delivering comprehensive relief to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans. Last week, he announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill and expressed urgency that a Senate floor vote take place swiftly.