LANSING Mich. (WLNS) – In Washington D.C., the House has passed legislation that would dramatically boost health care services and disability benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill has the backing of the nation’s major veterans groups as well as Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

“I’ve met too many Michigan veterans who have been fighting the VA for specialized care even as they battle the health effects of burn pit exposure, which I believe is our generation’s Agent Orange. The Honoring our PACT Act is a landmark bill to address this problem in a comprehensive way.” said Slotkin in a press release. 

“It’s unacceptable that thousands of veterans are expected to jump through the legal hurdles of proving their exposure to the VA. I introduced the bipartisan Veterans Burn Pits Recognition Act to remove that burden, and I’m pleased to see it pass the House as part of this larger bill. By cutting this red-tape, we can remove a major obstacle to our veterans getting the care and support they’ve earned.”

The bill, known as The Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act would: 

  • Eliminate the unreasonable burden on veterans to prove they were exposed to burn pits while serving on an installation where those practices were in use.
  • Formally recognize and concede that veterans who served near burn pits were exposed to airborne hazards, toxins and particulate matters, potentially aiding thousands of veterans who otherwise do not have documentation of their exposure.
  • Require the VA to conduct a full medical examination on veterans to determine a potential connection between an ailment and past toxic exposure.
  • Work in acknowledgment of ongoing research being conducted by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The Senate unanimously passed a much narrower bill extending how long combat veterans are guaranteed Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare.

However, House Democrats say that is a fraction of what is needed.

The two versions will need to be reconciled before becoming law.