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Area veterans and senators share impact of PACT Act passing

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Veterans share impact of PACT Act passing

WISCONSIN (WAOW) -- The PACT Act is now on its way to President Biden's desk and area veterans, and senators, share just how much this could help veterans.

The passing of the PACT Act comes after the Senate originally blocked a draft of the legislation.

Both veterans and senators say this decision will go a long way in helping those who served.

"It's a huge bill, a huge impact finally stepping up and helping those families that have suffered for so long with carrying that toxic disability exposure," said Rock Larson, the President of the Veterans Service Officer Association of Wisconsin.

The bill, which will cost nearly 280-million dollars, aims to expand healthcare for veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits while serving overseas.

Larson, who is also the Wood County Veteran Services officer, says he's known veterans who have passed away from those toxic chemicals, as they've been linked to health issues like heart disease, diabetes and various cancers.

"In one drawer, I've got over 20 Gulf War burn pit veterans and 20 potentially new Agent Orange veterans," he said.

Those veterans were denied healthcare coverage for those ailments previously, but he says those veterans will now get their much-deserved benefits.

The families of those who have passed will also receive compensation.

The act passed with a vote of 86-11, with both Wisconsin Senators voting yes.

"I'm so glad that the PACT Act has finally passed." Senator Tammy Baldwin said, "Our veterans can get the long-overdue care and benefits they deserve."

Senator Ron Johnson originally voted no, due to the cost and related amendments. He ultimately voted yes, saying in a statement that while "amendments were not ultimately adopted, our veterans deserve quality care from the VA and support from Congress for conditions they develop as a result of their service to our country."

"It sets the veterans up for the future to really take care of those that have been exposed," Larson said.

According to the White House, the bill will help more than five-million veterans from all generations.

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