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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) applauded Congress for passing the Honoring our PACT Act to provide healthcare for 3.5 million veterans.
The bill, which passed both Chambers and heads to the President’s desk for signature, will provide healthcare to over 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service, including Agent Orange, contaminated water at military bases, airborne hazards from burn pits, and radiation from atomic testing.
In particular, section 507 requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a study of veterans with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that assesses “possible relationships between toxic exposures experienced during service in the Armed Forces and mental health conditions, including chronic multisymptom illness, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, episodes of psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, and suicide deaths.”
“Toxic exposure has been a tragic consequence of military participation for millions of veterans, and the lack of access to appropriate healthcare promoted further traumatization,” said Jesse Kohler, CTIPP’s executive director. “The Honoring our PACT Act will ensure over 3.5 million veterans finally receive healthcare and support. This legislation rightly shifts the burden of proof off our veterans, preventing re-traumatization and further harm. Streamlining the VA’s decision-making process should also speed up healthcare delivery, so veterans will get help more quickly. The study on the possible relationship between toxic exposure and mental health conditions is a critical investment toward understanding and supporting veterans living with PTSD, depression, and other conditions. We thank Congress and the President for their continued leadership on America’s mental health crisis.”
The law presumes that veterans who served in certain theaters at particular times were exposed to toxic substances and are potentially eligible for healthcare and benefits for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers.
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The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) is a national nonprofit committed to creating a trauma-informed society where individuals, families, and communities have the support and resources necessary to thrive. Through advocacy, policy, and education, CTIPP is building a movement that integrates trauma-informed, resilience-focused, and healing-centered prevention, intervention, and treatment approaches across all sectors and generations.