Veterans Affairs (VA) medical staff report that veterans continue to express significant concerns about potential injuries related to military toxic exposure. In November 2022, as part of efforts under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act), VA officials began conducting toxic exposure screenings during regular veteran healthcare visits. Approximately 40% of veterans surveyed expressed concerns about health issues related to burn pit smoke, Agent Orange exposure, water contamination, or other toxic exposures during their military service. This rate has remained consistent over the past year.
- High Concerns About Toxic Exposure: Veterans continue to express high levels of concern about potential injuries resulting from military toxic exposure, spanning different generations of military service.
- PACT Act and Toxic Exposure Screenings: The VA initiated toxic exposure screenings as part of the PACT Act’s outreach efforts in November 2022. These screenings aim to identify potential health issues related to toxic exposure, even if veterans are not currently ill or injured.
- Early Intervention and Monitoring: The screenings serve as a preventive measure to address health problems early and provide consistent monitoring for veterans who may have been exposed to harmful substances.
- Data Collection for Trend Analysis: The VA plans to use the data collected from these screenings to identify trends in military toxic exposure illness rates. This data may help predict which veterans could face more severe health consequences in the future.
- Expanding Disability Benefits: Information from the screenings will also be used to expand the list of conditions presumed to be caused by military service, simplifying the process for veterans to obtain disability benefits.
- Reaching Out to Non-Regular VA Users: The VA’s next focus is reaching out to veterans who are not regular users of VA healthcare services to better understand their medical status. This effort aims to ensure that veterans who may have been exposed to toxins are identified and receive appropriate care and benefits.