Veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s through 1987 were exposed to toxic chemicals in the water supply due to leaks from a fuel tank. The Honoring Our PACT Act aims to give veterans exposed to poisonous chemicals better access to the medical care they need through the VA program.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: Passage of The Honoring Our PACT Act
For years, veteran Marines who resided at Camp Lejeune have suffered illnesses and fatalities due to their exposure to water contaminated with dangerous chemicals. These chemicals led many residents to develop cancer and other serious diseases.
Many of these veterans have been unable to obtain treatment for their conditions through the VA. Now, through the passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, those suffering from illnesses caused by contaminated water will be able to receive the treatment they need.
What’s included in the Honoring Our PACT Act?
The Honoring Our PACT Act provides expanded benefits and access to health care for all veterans exposed to toxins while performing their duties.
This includes veterans serving in the 1990s and post-9/11 wars who were exposed to toxins while working near burn pits that were used to eliminate garbage, jet fuel and other dangerous chemicals.
Veterans who resided at Camp Lejeune during the time of water contamination between the late 1950s and 1987 will be allowed expanded access to medical care.
The Honoring Our PACT Act establishes 31 new VA health care facilities across 19 states. A total of 23 conditions are expected to be added to the list of medical concerns related to toxic exposure.
The Act also seeks to improve research on toxin exposure within the federal government and expand resources and training available through the VA.
What caused Camp Lejeune water contamination?
The Camp Lejeune water contamination resulted from a leaking fuel tank that was not properly repaired or maintained. The fuel tank was used to power a generator, and when fuel began to leak, two workers attempted to fix it by welding the tank.
However, they replaced the fuel inside with diesel rather than gasoline and failed to store it properly underground.
As a result, diesel and other chemicals leaked into the nearby water supply at Camp Lejeune. When the contamination was found, hundreds of thousands of prior Camp Lejeune residents had already been exposed to the chemicals in the drinking water.
Many veteran service members who developed severe illnesses due to the exposure have filed Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
Did the Honoring Our PACT Act pass?
The Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3, 2022, and the Senate on June 16, 2022. The Senate proposed additional revisions to the Act, and it was then signed into law by President Biden in August of 2022.
Fourteen senators opposed the bill, including Burr (R-NC), Crapo (R-ID), Lankford (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), Lummis (R-WY), Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Romney (R-UT), Rounds (R-SD), Shelby (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Tillis (R-NC), Toomey (R-PA) and Tuberville (R-AL).
Two Senators abstained. Daines (R-MT) abstained due to a flooding crisis in Montana, while Wicker (R-MS) had tested positive for COVID-19 and could not vote.
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