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July 18, 2022

Rep. Aguilar Helps Expand Health Care Benefits for Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, Rep. Pete Aguilar helped pass the bipartisan Honoring Our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (S.3373), the largest expansion of veterans’ health care benefits in decades. This bill ensures that the over 3.5 million veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances while serving their country will have access to health care benefits they earned.

The Honoring Our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act creates presumptions for 23 different respiratory illnesses and cancers. The development of these presumptions will shift the burden of proof off our servicemembers. A veteran who served in a particular theater at a certain time will be presumed to have been exposed to toxic substances by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and could be eligible for health care and benefits. Additionally, this bill will streamline the VA’s presumption decision making process allowing veterans to access care faster and making sure that Congress no longer needs interfere.

“We made a commitment to all of our veterans that we have an obligation to honor, especially if they come home from their service with visible or invisible wounds,” said Rep. Aguilar. “Toxic-exposed veterans have suffered for far too long waiting for our government to recognize their illness as a cost of war. I’m proud to support this comprehensive, bipartisan legislation, once again, and ensure that our nation’s veterans have access to life-saving health care benefits. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to honoring our pact with toxic-exposed veterans.”

Rep. Aguilar voted to pass the Honoring Our PACT Act earlier this year. The Honoring Our PACT Act was renamed in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson who was exposed to burn pits when deployed to Iraq and Kosovo. He passed away in 2020 after battling a rare, deadly lung cancer, at the age of 39. This bill has been sent back to the Senate for final passage.

Rep. Aguilar serves as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and is a Member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Committee on House Administration.