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Veterans affected by burn pit smoke inhalation will receive help with passing of PACT Act

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Air Force personnel toss unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base
US AIR FORCE/via REUTERS
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FILE PHOTO: Master Sgt. Darryl Sterling, 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment manager, tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base in Balad, Iraq March 10, 2008. Picture taken March 10, 2008. Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/USAF/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act into law. This PACT Act expands benefits for veterans and service members that were exposed to — and inhaled — fumes, debris from large trash fires known as burn pits while serving overseas.

Burn pits were common practice on military bases for waste disposal for several years. The garbage set aflame often included chemicals, paint, both medical and human waste, plastics, styrofoam, rubber and munitions.

The Department of Defense estimates that more than 3 million troops from recent wars may have respiratory ailments due to the exposure of airborne toxins from burn bits.

In July, Senate Republicans blocked the PACT Act, claiming objections to the funds connected to the measure. The Bill went back on track later that month after an outcry from veterans and veteran advocates.

What does the passage of the PACT Act mean for veterans? What are the eligibility requirements? How does this expand healthcare for veterans? How soon will veterans see the expansion of their benefits?

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"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Thursday, August 11.

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