Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Marco Rubio, original authors of the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act, issued the following statement on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee deal to help veterans exposed to burn pits:
“This bipartisan agreement represents an enormous victory for service members across the country who have been suffering for years from their exposure to toxic burn pits. Under this agreement, our nation’s brave men and women in uniform and their families would no longer need to jump through unnecessary hoops to get the health care that they’ve earned.
“We are proud that our bipartisan Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act formed the centerpiece of the presumptive benefits section in this monumental bill. We thank all of our partners in this fight, especially Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran, as well as the Veterans Service Organizations, Jon Stewart, and John Feal for their tireless advocacy and support. We look forward to working alongside Senate leadership to get this bill on President Joe Biden’s desk as quickly as possible in order to uphold Congress’ obligation to our veterans, and most importantly, save lives.”
In March 2022, the House of Representatives passed the Honoring Our PACT Act, which included provisions of Senator Gillibrand’s Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act. Gillibrand originally introduced the bipartisan and bicameral War Fighters Act alongside Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
The bill would create a presumptive service connection for more than 20 categories of diseases and streamline the process for veterans to obtain benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It would remove the “burden of proof” from the veteran to provide enough evidence to establish a direct service connection between their health condition and exposure.