What They Are Saying: President Biden & Veterans Service Organizations Praise Tester, Moran’s Bipartisan Toxic Exposure Bill
Chairman and Ranking Member’s bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act one step closer to law following Senate passage
Following Senate passage last week, President Joe Biden and the nation’s leading Veterans Service Organizations praised the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022—bipartisan legislation championed by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to deliver all eras of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history:
“As part of the Unity Agenda that I laid out in my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to make sure that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve,” said President Joe Biden. “…The United States Senate answered that call by overwhelmingly passing the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022—the largest single bill in American history to address our service members’ exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances…this legislation makes good on our sacred obligation to care for veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. I want to thank Chair Tester and Ranking Member Moran for their remarkable work to pass the PACT Act, and I urge the House to swiftly pass this bill so I can sign it into law right away.”
“IAVA applauds the leadership of Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester and Ranking Member Jerry Moran in forging this landmark bipartisan legislation, and Senators for delivering long-overdue benefits to millions of veterans and servicemembers suffering from military toxic exposures,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “IAVA has been fighting for years to get comprehensive legislation to the finish line, and it has been an honor to work beside countless advocates, survivors, and family members who helped make this possible so that toxic exposed veterans never have to bear the burden of battling for the benefits they deserve.”
“Our country makes a promise to Service members that if they get wounded in the line of duty, they will receive the support of a grateful nation when they return home,” said Mike Linnington, CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project. “For far too long, that promise has been broken for veterans suffering from toxic wounds. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act will finally keep that promise by guaranteeing access to VA care and benefits for exposed veterans of all eras. Wounded Warrior Project commends Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran for their bipartisan work and thanks every one of the 84 Senators who voted yes on this critical legislation. We look forward to this bill being swiftly passed by the House and signed into law by the President.”
“This was a total team effort, from the legislative staffs in both chambers to the dozens of advocacy groups on board to the grassroots work put in by thousands of MOAA members,” said Lieutenant General Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), President and CEO of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). “Everyone played a role in this success, but we’re not done yet—MOAA and our partners will see this through not just the president’s signature, but through the implementation process so critical to ensure the earned benefits of millions of veterans.”
“DAV applauds the overwhelming bipartisan Senate passage this week of the Honoring Our PACT Act, the most comprehensive toxic exposure legislation ever considered by Congress,” said Andy Marshall, National Commander of Disabled American Veterans (DAV). “Once signed into law, this historic legislation will make it easier for millions of veterans from all eras who were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation and other toxic substances, to access the health care and benefits they have earned from their service. On behalf of our more than one million members, we thank Senators Tester and Moran for their steadfast leadership and commitment to keeping our promises to the men and women who served, particularly those injured, ill and disabled from their service.”
“This is an enormous victory for veterans, servicemembers, and their families,” said Matthew “Fritz” Mihelcic, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and its Auxiliary. “I commend every senator who voted in favor for those who have borne the burden of toxic exposure, for the military families struggling to care them, and for the military men and women who will face toxic exposure in the future.”
“The U.S. Senate has saved lives and truly delivered for veterans,” said Paul E. Dillard, National Commander of The American Legion. “By passing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, the 117th Congress has put substance behind the phrase, ‘Thank you for your service.’ The American Legion is grateful for the service of millions of veterans who were exposed to burn pits, atomic radiation, Agent Orange, and other environmental poisons. Thanks to the U.S. Congress, these men and women will be able to receive the care and benefits they have earned. The PACT Act is a historic bipartisan achievement. The American Legion thanks not only those who voted for this legislation but the thousands of Legionnaires and advocates who worked to make this happen. Thanks to the unwavering leadership of Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran, the American Legion looks forward to President Biden signing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act into law.”
“The Reserve Organization of America applauds the U.S. Senate for decisively passing the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our Pact Act, and looks forward to its passage in the House and signing by President Biden,” said Jeffrey E. Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the Reserve Organization of America. “Forty percent of America’s military is in the Reserve and National Guard; the PACT Act will provide essential care to the men and women who are America’s ‘twice-the citizen,’ serving shoulder-to-shoulder alongside their active-duty comrades, sharing every risk and performing every duty in the defense of liberty. Passing the PACT Act is a national security issue. Young Americans considering the military must know that their government will take care of them—and not abandon them when they come home sick or disabled.”
The Senators worked for months with colleagues from both chambers, VA Secretary Denis McDonough, the Biden Administration, and Veterans Service Organizations to deliver the historic bill. The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives where it must pass before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Bill text of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 can be found HERE.