WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT – This week, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) visited the White River Junction VA Medical Center to tour upcoming renovations at the Medical Center and hear from Medical Center and Regional Office leadership about successes and challenges facing Vermont’s veterans since the implementation of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act), a bipartisan bill to expand health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances.
“I was thankful for the opportunity to see the incredible work being done at the White River Junction VA Medical Center and to hear directly from Medical Center and Regional Office leadership about how we can better support Vermont’s veterans,” said Sen. Welch. “The PACT Act marked a huge step forward in addressing the health impacts of toxic burn pit exposure among veterans. It’s vital that we continue to expand education efforts to encourage more veterans to sign up for these crucial benefits. I remain committed to working across the aisle to strengthen the PACT Act and ensure the continued health and welfare of Vermont’s veterans and servicemembers.”
Recently, the Senate passed of Senator Welch’s bipartisan amendment with Senators Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tillis (R-N.C.) requiring the VA to conduct a review for veterans who served in Kosovo and engaged in a toxic exposure risk activity, on mortality data for these veterans, toxic exposure data, and the type of toxic exposure risk activities these veterans engaged in.
Earlier this year, Senator Welch introduced three bills—the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, the Reducing Exposure to Burn Pits Act, and the Toxic Exposure Education for Servicemembers Act—to limit toxic substance exposure among veterans, educate servicemembers on the impact of burn pits and other airborne hazards, and improve data collection on veterans affected by toxic exposure. The bills build on the passage of the PACT Act, which Senator Welch helped pass as a Member of the House of Representatives.
In May, Senator Peter Welch led the Vermont and New Hampshire congressional delegations in sending a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis R. McDonough urging the VA to use authority granted under the PACT Act to make it easier for veterans stationed in Kosovo from 1999 onwards to access health care and disability benefits for conditions related to toxic substance exposure during their service.
View photos from the visit below.