American Legion informs veterans about PACT Act

There was an informational meeting Saturday at the Wilmington American Legion that invited veterans to learn about a new law that may change their lives.
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 7:22 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There was an informational meeting Saturday at the Wilmington American Legion that invited veterans to learn about a new law that may change their lives.

In August, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan PACT Act, marking the most significant expansion of Veterans Affairs health care in 30 years. The act seeks to help Veterans Affairs expand health care and benefits to millions of veterans that were exposed to burn pits and toxic substances.

Some, however, have found the eligibility requirements and application confusing. This is why there was an informational meeting held at the American Legion Post 10 in Wilmington.

Veteran Service Officer Betsy Graham spoke at the meeting and told me how for several groups of veterans, the new legislation has opened many doors.

“It’s really going to do a lot of presumptive condition to veterans about the disability compensation, is going to open up health care eligibility to a lot of veterans that couldn’t before. It’s just a lot of different things that are in there that are really going to help veterans and their families,” said Graham.

The legislation greatly reduces the amount of paperwork and need for exams for veterans diagnosed with 23 specific conditions. This list includes 11 respiratory related conditions, along with several forms of cancer, including reproductive cancers, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer and brain cancers such as glioblastoma. Survivors of veterans who died due to one of these conditions may also now be eligible for benefits.

Mark McMullin, a marine veteran who was stationed at Camp Lejeune, was at the informational meeting and has delt with many health issues.

“I’ve had cancer and a child with Down Syndrome who was born still with the syndrome at Camp Lejeune. I’ve also experienced male infertility. So, I don’t know if all those things were caused by this, but I wanted to see if they were and I guess just explore what my options are,” said McMullin.

McMullin says he was a victim of the toxic exposure on base but didn’t know much about the PACT Act. Now he’s hopeful that the veteran service officers can get him the answers he’s been looking for.

The annual Veterans Experience Action Center will take place on Thursday, November 17th and Friday, November 18th from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Saturday, November 19th from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. They will take place at American Legion Post 10 at 702 Pine Grove Road in Wilmington.

VEAC services include benefits compensation and pension claims, wellness exams, on-site enrollment in VA health care benefits, social services, mental health counseling resources and much more.

To learn more about the PACT Act, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.