Veterans Affairs Clinic is holding event on healthcare benefits under PACT Act on Tuesday

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Veterans Affairs Clinic in Rochester will hold an event on Tuesday to help veterans understand how they can get healthcare benefits under the PACT Act. The event runs from 2 to 7 p.m. at the clinic on Calkins Road.

The PACT Act expands healthcare for the estimated 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits, areas used to discard trash by incinerating it. Burn pits were common around U.S. military camps in Iraq and Afghanistan. Studies have since linked them to cancer, asthma, and other chronic health problems.

President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act into law on August 8 after it received bipartisan support. The event at the VA clinic will allow veterans to learn more about applying for benefits and getting screened for toxic exposure.

If you’re a veteran but not enrolled with VA Healthcare, you must bring a photo ID and a copy of your DD214. You can learn more here.

More than 80 VA facilities across the country will host other events in early December to spread awareness of healthcare benefits.

After the PACT Act was signed, veterans no longer need to prove that their illness was caused by burn pit exposure in order to receive disability payments. Before, around 70% of disability claims related to burn pit exposure were denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs due to lack of evidence.

News10NBC interviewed Melissa Hemmerick of Odgen, who said burn pits contributed to the death of her husband, an Army National Guard veteran. The local veteran who served two tours of Afghanistan died in 2017 of throat cancer that spread.

Hemmerick advocated for the PACT Act in memory of her husband. “Why do you have to jump through hoops of fire, they’ve done enough for their country,” she said.

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