Biden signs PACT Act providing life-saving care to veterans after burn pits exposure: ‘Truly sacred obligation’

·2 min read
President Joe Biden signs the PACT Act to support veterans exposed to burn pits during their service (The White House)
President Joe Biden signs the PACT Act to support veterans exposed to burn pits during their service (The White House)

President Joe Biden has signed into law the PACT Act which will provide life-saving care to veterans who have been exposed to burn pits.

In remarks at the White House, Mr Biden called it the “most significant law our nation has ever passed to help veterans who were exposed to toxic substances” and said: “I was gonna get this done come hell or higher water.”

He added that this is one of those issues that both Republicans and Democrats can work on together, thanking members of Congress for their work.

Having specifically asked lawmakers to work on such legislation during his State of the Union Address, the bipartisan effort is another significant achievement for the president.

The full title of the bill is the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022.

During the State of the Union speech, the president shared the story of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson who died two years ago from a rare form of lung cancer caused by toxic exposure to burn pits in Iraq.

On Wednesday, his nine-year-old daughter Brielle, widow Danielle Robinson and mother-in-law Susan Zeier joined the president for the signing.

Danielle had attended the SOTU in March as First Lady Jill Biden’s guest, and days later, the PACT Act was renamed after Heath.

Mr Biden’s commitment to supporting veterans is deeply personal, he often speaks of his late son Beau and his belief that his terminal cancer was caused by exposure to burn pits.

Beau was a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2008, spending much of the next year breathing in the 10-acre burn pit at Balad Air Force Base.

In 2015 he died at the age of 46 following a battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

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