NewsBytes June 3, 2022      

In this issue:
Comprehensive Toxic Bill to be Debated in Senate
Support The FRA Coin Bill 

Comprehensive Veterans Toxic Bill to be Debated in Senate
The House amended and passed (256-174) the “Honoring Our PACT Act” (H.R.3967). The bill will be amended in the Senate to authorize the setup 31 major medical clinics across America and hire thousands more claims processors and health care staff. The bill would allow for the first time all veterans who were at risk of toxic exposure, including 3.5 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, to obtain immediate and lifelong access to health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — one of the largest expansions of health care eligibility in the VA’s history. 

The bill would establish a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to the smoke from burn pits, used extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq to dispose of various types of waste, many of them toxic. Further, the bill also provides for new benefits for veterans who faced radiation exposure during deployments throughout the Cold War, adds hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy to the list of illnesses linked to Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam War, expands the timeline for Gulf War medical claims and requires new medical exams for all veterans with toxic exposure claims. Veterans who served in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Guam during the Vietnam War era would be covered for the first time under the same Agent Orange presumptive policies as those who served in Vietnam itself.

VA staff would be granted “the authority to determine that a veteran participated in a toxic exposure risk activity when an exposure tracking record system does not contain the appropriate data,” a stark distinction from the science-only system in use at VA currently. Veteran advocates have complained that in many cases, veterans with serious illnesses obviously connected to their service have been turned away by the VA because irrefutable data showing chemical exposure during their service does not exist. The measure that passed the House is estimated to cost more than $200 billion over 10 years and would potentially affect as many as one in five veterans living today.

Members are strongly encouraged to use the FRA Action Center to ask their Senators to support this important legislation by going online.  

The FRA Coin Bill 
Representatives Gus Bilirakis (Fla.) and John Garamendi (Calif.) introduced legislation (H.R.6663) that will create a 100th anniversary commemorative coin for the Fleet Reserve Association. This bipartisan legislation would direct the Department of Treasury to mint a coin to commemorate the centennial of the foundation and charter of the FRA in 1924, all at no cost to American taxpayers.
“For one century, the FRA has served as a strong voice in Washington,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis. “The organization has been instrumental in advocating for Sea Service Members and their families, including successfully fighting back against proposed cuts to benefits and supporting enhanced eligibility and benefits for veterans. The organization has been a valued partner in my fight to rectify the injustice of concurrent receipt. Together, I am optimistic that we will be able to ensure all veterans finally receive the full benefits they’ve earned and deserve. I am honored to help commemorate this prestigious organization’s tireless work and legacy of success.”

Members are strongly urged to ask their Representative  to co-sponsor this legislation.

NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail us  and include your name and contact information in the body of e-mail. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number.


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