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How to enroll for PACT Act benefits before September 30

The law expands VA healthcare and benefits for those exposed to Agent Orange, burn pits, and other toxic substances.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Saturday is the deadline for an open enrollment period that lets some veterans bypass the Veterans Administration benefit application and get healthcare. It’s through a relatively new federal law called the PACT Act.
PACT stands for Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics and was passed by Congress in 2022. The law expands VA healthcare and benefits for those exposed to Agent Orange, burn pits, and other toxic substances. The also act added a list of health conditions that the VA presumes are caused by exposure to these substances.
Harry Bishop served in the Air Force for 24 years and says these benefits were a long time coming.
“You’ve got a lot of people that were affected by this adversely, and they need to get some kind of benefit out of it,” Bishop said. “It may hurt our budget, but it’s welcome and it should be should be used to benefit these veterans”
This enrollment period is for veterans that were deployed to a combat zone, had never enrolled in VA healthcare, and left active duty between September 11, 2001 and October 1, 2013.. The PACT Act also applies to veterans of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.
It lets them bypass the VA benefit application and get healthcare directly, which means they don’t need to meet certain disability or income requirements to access medical, mental health, preventative care, prescriptions and more.
Albertha Woodard is Fairfield County’s Director of Veterans Affairs and a veteran herself.
“Diabetes, or hypertension, those are some of the claims that people now can claim that had not been able to claim before,” she said.
She said many veterans may not know about the benefit or may have trouble filing for it.
“they have had difficulties because one, they’re unaware or two, they’re unaware of how to actually do the claim themselves or come to an office that can help them do the claim,” she said. “So a lot of interest in trying to do things on their own, but we, veterans association, helps them to file those claims, and let them know what the actual rules are so that they can get those claims” // “finally, you’re getting those things that you have are now being granted. so it’s a really it takes a lot of stress off of us.”
Veterans can apply online, using the v-a’s hotline at 800-698-2411, or in person.

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