U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (back, middle) speaks during the roundtable with veterans.

John Hamilton | News Journal

WILMINGTON – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a roundtable with advocates and local veterans — including veterans who have been harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits during their military service — at VFW Post 6710 in Wilmington Tuesday afternoon.

The event was held to discuss the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 recently signed into law by President Biden, according to the senator’s office.

The legislation is named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a Central Ohio veteran who passed away in 2020 at age 39 from lung cancer after exposure to burn pits during a one-year deployment in Iraq in 2006.

The PACT Act is the result “of a years-long fight by Brown, veterans and advocates to secure access to Department of Veterans Affairs health care and disability benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals.”

He now is working with Ohio veterans, their families and advocates “to bring additional attention to provisions in the PACT Act so veterans can get the care they’ve earned and deserve.”

“This law is the most comprehensive expansion of benefits for veterans who faced toxic exposure in our country’s history,” said Brown. “This is a cost of going to war. If you were exposed to toxins while serving our country, you deserve the benefits you earned. Period. No exceptions.”

Jeff Rollins, Executive Director of the Clinton County Veterans’ Service Commission, said, “We will continue to serve the veterans of the county by maintaining our accreditations and training with the Ohio Department of Veterans Services that will provide us with the knowledge and updates on the new PACT Act to effectively be of service.”

The VA states the act brings these changes:

• Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for veterans with toxic exposures and veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras

• Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures

• Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation

• Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran enrolled in VA health care

• Helps improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

Veterans who seek more information on the PACT Act may visit https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/ or call 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711). You can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now.