As of Oct. 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has expanded and extended eligibility for VA health care for certain veterans of the Gulf Wars and post-9/11 under the PACT Act. Post-9/11 veterans who did not previously enroll in VA health care now have a one-year window to enroll if they:
- Served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War; or
- Served in combat after Nov. 11, 1998; and
- Were discharged or released from active service between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013.
Veterans who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War are also eligible for care. This includes veterans who, in connection with service during the period, received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Service Specific Expeditionary Medal, Combat Era Specific Expeditionary Medal, Campaign Specific Medal, or any other combat theater award established by federal statute or executive order.
Also eligible for care are Vietnam-era veterans who served in the following locations and time periods:
- The Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975;
- Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai base between Jan. 9, 1962, and June 30, 1976;
- Laos between Dec. 1, 1965, and Sept. 30, 1969;
- Certain provinces in Cambodia between April 16, 1969, and April 30, 1969;
- Guam or American Samoa (or their territorial waters) between Jan. 9, 1962, and July 31, 1980;
- Johnston Atoll (or on a ship that called there) between Jan. 1, 1972, and Sept. 30, 1977.
“This expansion will bring generations of new veterans into VA health care, and increase the health-care benefits of many more, which will result in the one outcome that matters most: better health outcomes for veterans,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “I highly encourage these veterans to apply now for the health care they’ve earned and deserve.”
Eligible veterans and survivors are encouraged to apply for those benefits now at VA.gov/PACT.
The expansion of PACT Act-related health-care eligibility will be phased in over the coming years. However, VA has made all conditions outlined in the PACT Act presumptive for benefits as of Aug. 10, 2022, when President Biden signed it into law.
To learn more about the PACT Act, visit VA.gov/PACT or call 1-800-MY-VA-411.