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PACT ACT Signed Into Law for Camp Lejeune and Burn Pit Victims

PACT ACT Signed Into Law for Camp Lejeune and Burn Pit Victims

The Honoring, our PACT Act, was signed into law on August 10, 2022, by President Joe Biden. The new law expands on V.A. health care and benefits for veterans exposed to agent orange in Vietnam, burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Camp Lejeune water contamination from 1953 to 1987, and many other toxic substances. The law no longer requires generations of veterans to prove that their illnesses were caused by toxic exposures suffered in the military to receive V.A. coverage. The new law helps generations of Veterans and their survivors by removing the burden of proof and awarding benefits veterans have earned and deserve.

Burn Pits

The PACT act addresses burn pit exposure during combat for service members who suffer from related illnesses. Burn pits were commonly used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other overseas locations until late 2010 to dispose of waste collected on military bases. That included items that produced dangerous toxic smoke when burned, such as:

  • Chemical weapons
  • Computer hardware
  • Human remains
  • Medical waste
  • Asbestos
  • Pesticides
  • Paint cans
  • Fuels
  • Rubber

Some burn pits reached ten acres in size and would cover bases in toxic smoke with shifting winds.

The law has provisions for burn pits and adds more than 20 medical conditions that result in presumptive eligibility for service-connected disability benefits. Included are 11 respiratory-related conditions and several forms of cancer, including reproductive cancers, melanoma, pancreatic, kidney, and brain cancers. This change expands benefits for the Gulf War era and post-9/11 Veterans.

These cancers are now presumptive:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer of any type
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

These illnesses are now presumptive:

  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

In addition, if you served in any of these locations and time periods, we have determined that you had exposure to burn pits or other toxins. We call this having a presumption of exposure.

On or after Sept. 11, 2001, in any of these locations:

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • The airspace above any of these locations

On or after Aug. 2, 1990, in any of these locations:

  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • The airspace above any of these locations

The presumption of exposure to burn pits has also expanded to veterans who served in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen after Sept. 19, 2001, or in Somalia after Aug. 2, 1990. Those locations will now be on the list, along with veterans who served in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, and Uzbekistan after Sept. 2001 and those who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations after Aug. 2, 1990.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Along with expanded burn pit coverage, the PACT Act also includes a measure that allows thousands of individuals exposed to the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits against the U.S. government. Individuals stationed at Camp Lejeune between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, for 30 days or more are eligible to file a lawsuit.

Veterans, family members, non-military workers (civilian contractors), and others exposed between these dates may also qualify for a lawsuit. The measure has opened a two-year legal window for water contamination victims to file a Camp Lejeune claim with the Judge Advocate General (JAG) office of the Navy’s Tort Claims Unit in Norfolk, VA. Once the claim is filed, JAG can accept or reject the claim, and if denied, victims can file a lawsuit to recover losses.

Below is a list of conditions that are related to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water exposure:

  • Liver Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Adult Leukemia
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lung cancer

When applying for V.A. disability benefits, the veteran would first receive a V.A. disability rating which required them to prove that their illness or disease was connected to their military service. A presumptive condition means there is no need to prove that their service caused the condition because the law has established that the presumptive condition is connected to their service. The service member only needs to meet the service requirements for the presumption to be valid.

Contact an Attorney if You Suffered Due to Exposure to Toxic Environments While Serving in the Military

If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered from an illness related to your time in service, contact our firm for a free consultation. Although the law has opened the ability to file a claim, there is a time limit, so do not wait. Our attorneys at Charles Boyk law have support staff with medical training and background who will review the facts of your case so we can give you all the legal options available for you to receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.

Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC