The Department of Veterans Affairs marks a historic milestone by screening 1 million veterans for military exposures as part of the PACT Act signed into law Aug. 10.
The screenings are a key component of the law — which empowers VA to deliver care and benefits to millions of toxic exposed veterans and their survivors.
“Since we launched the toxic exposure screening program, VA connected with 1 million Veterans around the country,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal, MD. “Our health-care teams reached an incredible breakthrough in a short length of time. These screenings are paramount to improving the health outcomes for veterans and providing them with the health care and benefits they’ve earned as quickly as possible. This is among the first steps we have taken to deliver even more benefits and health care to veterans who have been exposed to toxins during their service.”
VA surpassed initial screening expectations through extensive outreach campaigns to include hosting more than 90 Week of Action events across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. While The PACT Act Week of Action ended Dec. 17, 2022, veterans can obtain screenings at any time of the year with their VA health care provider.
Veterans enrolled in VA health care will be offered an initial toxic exposure screening then follow-up screenings at least once every five years.
The screening takes an average of five to 10 minutes and begins by asking veterans if they believe they experienced any toxic exposures while serving in the armed forces. Veterans who answer “yes” are then asked about specific exposures, including open burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation, contaminated water and other exposures. If a veteran has been exposed to toxins during their time of service, VA wants to know. It not only impacts their individual future care, but it can also improve overall toxic exposure-related care and outcomes.
If you are a veteran who has not been screened for toxic exposure or has never received care at VA, we encourage you to contact VA about enrolling in the VA health care system and about obtaining a toxic exposure screening. VA encourages all eligible veterans and survivors to apply for their earned PACT Act-related health care and benefits now. Don’t wait until something is wrong before coming to VA — our providers are trained to recognize issues and concerns unique to Veterans.
Veterans and survivors may apply or learn more about the PACT Act by visiting VA.gov/PACT or calling 1-800-MYVA411.