RIVERSIDE, CA — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Representative Mark Takano (D-Calif.-39), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, hosted a roundtable conversation with local veterans highlighting the Honoring our PACT Act, which expands Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to those exposed to toxic substances, ahead of the August 9th deadline for backdated compensation. Padilla and Takano were joined by local VA representatives to share more information on eligibility for those exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation, and other toxic substances. 

“I was proud to help pass the PACT Act to expand eligibility for quality care and benefits for the millions of Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances while serving our nation in the Armed Forces,” said Senator Padilla. “I was honored to meet with some of our brave veterans to thank Representative Takano for his work on this important legislation and to deliver one simple message: apply today and get the benefits you’ve earned.”

“Already thousands of veterans have applied for benefits since last August when President Biden signed my Honoring our Pact Act into law, and it will take continued outreach to make sure that number continues to grow,” said Representative Takano. “I’m thrilled to have welcomed Senator Padilla to Riverside today to meet veterans in my district, learn about their experiences, and discuss this historic expansion of benefits.”

The PACT Act, originally authored by Representative Takano and signed into law by President Biden in August 2022, is one of the largest health and benefit expansions for veterans in more than 30 years. While there is no formal date by which veterans need to apply for these benefits, veterans who apply by August 9, 2023 will be eligible for benefits backdated to August 10, 2022, the day that President Biden signed the PACT Act into law. Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that veterans under 40 who may have been exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their service are now eligible for breast cancer risk assessments and mammograms (as clinically appropriate) at the VA.

Since Congress passed the PACT Act, the VA has delivered more than $1.6 billion in PACT Act-related benefits to veterans and their survivors. All eligible veterans and survivors can file a claim — or submit their intent to file a claim — for PACT Act-related benefits now. VisitVA.gov/PACT for more information.

Press can access photos and b-roll footage of the roundtable HERE.


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