By: SALSA Staff Attorney, Todd Tagami
In the last six months, you may have noticed the abundance of commercials advertising legal services for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, NC. These class action lawsuits are made possible by the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, an important piece of legislation for Gulf-War and War on Terrorism Era Veterans. Since November of 2021, many important pieces of federal legislation impacting Veterans have been codified into law. Below you will find a short summary of each of these new laws.
Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 or the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, Pub. L. No. 117-168, 136 Stat. 1759 (2022).
This act is a massive expansion of VA health care for Veterans exposed to toxic airborne contaminates to Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 operations. It adds more than 20 presumptive conditions associated with burn pits, Agent Orange (and other forever chemicals), and other toxic exposures such as Camp Lejeune, NC. The new law also adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation. Veterans who may benefit from this act are encouraged to find more information and apply at The PACT Act and your VA Benefits.
Veterans and Family Information Act, Pub. L. No. 117-62, 135 Stat. 1482 (2021).
Requires VA fact sheets to be made available in English, Spanish, Tagalog, and each of the 10 most spoken languages in the country (not specified). Fact sheets must be available in both digital and print form.
Act of Nov. 30, 2021, Pub. L. No. 117-66, 135 Stat. 1489 (2021).
A bill requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on disparities associated with race and ethnicity with respect to certain benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021, Pub. L. No. 117-69, 135 Stat. 1495 (2021). Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement the maternity care coordination program. The VA must provide community maternity care providers (i.e., non-VA maternity care providers) with training and support with respect to the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans, particularly regarding mental and behavioral health conditions in relation to the service of the Veterans in the Armed Forces.
Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act of 2022, Pub. L. No. 117-135, 135 Stat. 1243 (2022). Mandates all VA facilities to upgrade to three-dimensional breast imagining. Additionally, the bill increases the use of molecular testing and genetic counseling for Veterans diagnosed with breast cancer. It also expands access to breast cancer treatment and directs VA research of breast cancer.
Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act, Pub. L. No. 117-133, 136 Stat. 1237 (2022). Expands eligibility for VA mammography screenings to veterans who may have been exposed to airborne hazards during:
- Iraq between August 2, 1990, and February 28, 1991, and from March 19, 2003, until burn pits were no longer used in theater (no date given);
- Southwest Asia, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar, from August 2, 1990, until burn pits are no longer used in such locations;
- Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Yemen from September 11, 2001, until burn pits are no longer used in such locations; and
- other locations and time periods as determined by the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
Patient Advocate Tracker Act, Pub. L. No. 117-175, 136 Stat. 2107 (2022).
Requires the VA Office of Patient Advocacy to establish a digital means of filing a complaint and allows the Veteran to review the status of their complaint as it is addressed by the facility.
The Solid Start Act of 2022, Pub. L. No. 117-205, 136 Stat. 2231 (2022).
Expands and permanently authorizes the Solid Start program; an outreach program to assist Veterans in their first year of separation. The programs main functions are to ensure newly separated Veterans understand the services available through the VA, a case worker contacts the Veteran three times in the first year of separation, and provides resources to Veterans who have been identified as in crisis.
Supporting Families of the Fallen Act, Pub. L. No. 117-209, 136 Stat. 2243 (2022).
Increases the maximum allowable coverage amount Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program and the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program from $400,000 to $500,000.