PACT Act and Toxic Exposure Information
With the passing of the PACT Act, as a veteran, you may have a lot of questions. As we wait for VA to interpret the new law and how it will impact veterans, the below information has been gathered to help you navigate the path forward.
To contact your local VFW Accredited Service Officer for additional questions or claims assistance, click here.
Gulf War Era Veterans
Vietnam Era Veterans
Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water
Gulf War Era Veterans
Under the PACT Act, veterans are entitled to VA health care and compensation benefits if they have qualifying service for VA to concede exposure to particulate matter and if they have manifested any of the specified diseases after their qualifying service.
Qualifying service for Gulf War era veterans means you either:
- Performed active military service in any of the following countries during or after the Gulf War (Aug. 2, 1990): Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia or the United Arab Emirates. Or;
- Performed active military service in any of the following countries after the start of the Global War on Terrorism (Sept. 11, 2001): Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan or Yemen.
The following cancers and diseases are now presumptive of Gulf War qualifying service:
Brain cancer; gastrointestinal cancer; giloblastoma; head cancer of any type; kidney cancer; lymphatic cancer; lymphoma; melanoma; neck cancer; pancreatic cancer; reproductive cancer of any type; respiratory cancer; asthma; chronic bronchitis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); rhinitis; sinusitis; constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis; emphysema; granulomatous disease; interstitial lung disease (ILD); pleuritis; pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis.
*VA may also assign benefits when the veteran exhibits objective indications of a medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness that is defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and functional gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, functional vomiting, functional constipation, functional bloating, functional abdominal pain syndrome, and functional dysphagia).
Vietnam Era Veterans
Under the PACT Act, veterans are entitled to VA health care and compensation benefits if they have covered service for VA to concede exposure to herbicides (e.g., Agent Orange) and if they have manifested any of the specified diseases after their qualifying service.
Covered service for Vietnam era veterans means active service in:
- The Republic of Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975.
- Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai Base from Jan. 9, 1962, to June 30, 1976.
- Laos from Dec. 14, 1965, to Sept. 30, 1969,
- Cambodia at Mimot, Krek, or the Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1962, to April 30, 1969.
- Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from April 1, 1968, to Aug. 31, 1971.
- Guam, American Samoa or territorial waters thereof from Jan. 9, 1962, to July 31, 1980.
- Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from Jan. 1, 1972, to Sept. 30, 1977.
- Air Force or Air Force Reserve veterans who regularly and repeatedly operated, maintained, or served aboard a C-123 aircraft know to have been used for spraying herbicides.
PACT Act added specified diseases for Vietnam era veterans are:
- Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance
*Access the full list of presumptive conditions related to herbicide (Agent Orange) exposure here.
Nuclear and Radiation-Exposed Veterans
The PACT Act expanded veterans who are eligible for presumptive service connection for diseases which manifested as a result of radiation exposure by adding onsite participation in the following radiation-risk activities:
- Enewetak Atoll cleanup from Jan. 1, 1977, thru Dec. 31, 1980.
- Palomares, Spain, response effort from Jan. 17, 1966, thru March 31, 1967.
- Thule, Greenland, response effort from Jan. 21, 1968, thru Sept. 25, 1968.
Here is a comprehensive list of Veterans VA has recognized as performing radiation-risk activities.
View the full list of cancers and disease that VA has acknowledged may be induced by radiation.
Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was incorporated into the PACT Act and set forth the process in which veterans and their families may seek damages for injuries suffered at Camp Lejeune. Those eligibility requirements set forth in the statute are:
- Resided, worked, or was otherwise exposed (including in utero exposure) at Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River for not less than 30 days for the period between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987. (The 30 day requirement is cumulative, not consecutive) Additionally, family members of deceased individuals may qualify to file a claim on behalf of their deceased veteran or family member.
- As of Aug. 10, 2022, had been diagnosed with a cancer or serious illness;
- Files an administrative claim with the Navy Judge Advocate General no later than Aug. 10, 2024 (two years from date of enactment).
Prior to the PACT Act becoming law, veterans affected by exposure to the contaminated water could pursue presumptive VA disability & compensation claims for the following conditions: adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.
Since the passage of the Pact Act veterans and their family members may not only seek compensation through filing a claim with Navy JAG for the above VA presumptive conditions, the following diseases and conditions may also qualify for compensation: appendix cancer, brain cancer, breast cancer (female & male), bile duct cancer, birth defects, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, female infertility, gallbladder cancer, hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease), intestinal cancer, lung cancer, miscarriages, neurobehavioral effects, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, renal toxicity, sinus cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, spinal cancer, systemic sclerosis/scleroderma and thyroid cancer.
While accredited representatives, like our VFW Service Officers, will be a big help throughout this process, we recognize that veterans, family members, and contractors who were on Camp LeJeune will need appropriate legal representation to pursue Camp LeJeune Justice Act claims. The VFW believes that any firm seeking to assist in Camp LeJeune claims should commit to the following:
- Cap attorney fees at a reasonable rate
- No upfront costs
- Work with the VFW to ensure veterans explore their earned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits
- Counsel claimants on the impact of the offset included in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act before accepting an award
- Encourage VFW membership to eligible veterans
- Provide resources to support the VFW Service Officer Program
Two firms that have been entrusted to commit to these steps are Bergmann & Moore and Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea. To start the process of pursuing a CLJA claim, the VFW encourages you to begin the process today by contacting Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea or Bergmann & Moore.