Portman Applauds Senate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Support our Veterans

Bill Also Includes Portman/Brown Legislation to Increase Transparency for Veterans Exposed to Toxic Chemicals

June 16, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) applauded Senate passage of the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, bipartisan legislation to deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – for the first time in the nation’s history. The legislation overwhelmingly passed the Senate with a vote of 84-14. It now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives and then the president’s desk for his signature.

The bill is named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a central Ohio veteran who was deployed to Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard and passed away in 2020 as a result of his exposure to burn pits while deployed.

“We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude for the safety and freedom we enjoy every day. It is our duty to stand by them and ensure transparency in the tracking of illnesses connected to their service, specifically burn pit exposure. Today, I joined my colleagues in overwhelmingly voting to approve the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act – important bipartisan legislation to ensure that thousands of veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals while serving our country get the medical care and disability benefits they deserve,” said Portman.  I’m proud that this bill also includes bipartisan legislation I’ve worked on with Senator Brown to increase transparency by requiring the VA to regularly report to Congress on veterans who have been exposed to burn pits. I encourage the House to consider it immediately so the president may sign it into law.”

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 will:

  • Expand VA health care eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans, which includes more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans;
  • Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions;
  • Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure;
    • Includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
  • Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure;
  • Improve VA’s resources for toxic-exposed veterans and training for VA health care and benefits professionals; and
  • Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in:
    • VA claims processing;
    • VA’s workforce; and
    • VA health care facilities.
  • Includes Portman and Brown’s SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act, which would increase transparency by requiring the VA to document a veteran who may have been exposed to burn pits and provide regular reporting to Congress.