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Sen. Rosen holds veterans’ roundtable

“The music goes round and round and it comes out here.” That’s a lyric from a vintage song.

It applies somewhat to the veterans’ law known as the PACT Act. I’ll get to the Act itself in a minute, but the round and round comes from the fact that everyone connected to veterans, it seems, has been jumping on the information bandwagon and holding seminars and meetings and issuing news releases and gathering at roundtables to discuss the PACT Act and how veterans can file claims.

I’m not complaining, because there was an initial deadline that had to be met — August 9. Up until then, if veterans filed a claim by that date and their applications were approved, their financial benefits would reach back to Aug. 10, 2022.

To be sure, there was some confusion. I recently asked several VA personnel, the retroactive issue aside, what was going to happen after that date? Could veterans still file under the Act, just not be eligible for the retro portion? Most did not have an immediate answer for me.

However at a VA seminar, a supervisor told me that yes, they can still file. But then, as the date approached, there were so many veterans around the nation filing, some received computer “error” messages. A note then went up stating that the VA was working to open the site, and all applications would be approved as soon as it was repaired.

In the end, all was well. (As I write this, the VA even extended the deadline until Aug. 14 as a result of the technical discrepancy. VA says it has successfully logged every one of these intents to file – meaning that every veteran or survivor who has received an error message while applying for PACT Act benefits can consider their intent to file complete.)

Sen. Jacky Rosen held a veterans’ roundtable about the Act. While several notable veterans attended, one participant noted the lack of rank-and-file veterans.

I did ask a question, and received an informative answer. Several of the presumptive illnesses under the PACT Act overlap with illnesses that affected soldiers in Vietnam.

I wondered, if a Vietnam veteran applied and was approved for an illness back in the day, did he or she have to apply again under the Act? The answer from one knowledgeable participant was “no.” However if Vietnam veterans were not approved in the past, they are now permitted to reapply under the Act.

To briefly explain the Act, it extends health care, financial and other benefits to veterans suffering from a wide range of illnesses, injuries or disabilities as a result of exposure to toxins. Those toxins include burn pits, Agent Orange or other radiation exposures in locations where they served.

Associated Press correspondent Chris Geriana recently appeared on MSNBC and said that he spoke with several vets who had already been approved under the Act. They enthusiastically told him that the benefits have made a difference and have been a great help to them and their families.

I’m jumping on the round and round bandwagon. It goes without saying that veterans are still encouraged to apply, before or after Aug. 14. Call the VA, or go to VA.gov/PACT, or meet with a Veterans Service Officer to assist in filling out the forms.

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