The Senate passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act as part of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 on June 16, 2022. The Act passed with a vote of 84-14. This historic legislation will allow people who were exposed to the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to recover monetary damages from the United States government. Once signed into law, the bill will allow those who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and later suffered an illness linked to the contamination to sue the US government for damages.
Democrats and Republicans worked together to champion this important legislation to help millions of Veterans who sacrificed their health by serving their country. This bipartisan legislation will honor the sacrifices of these brave Veterans and their families.
The next step in the legislative process is for the PACT Act to go to the House of Representatives for final passage. The original bill was first introduced in the House and must return there for a final House vote as the original bill language was changed in the Senate.
Once the House passes the bill, it will go to President Biden for his signature. President Biden has issued a statement that he will support this legislation to deliver the benefits and health care services that Veterans impacted by toxic exposures have earned. President Biden identified supporting veterans as a key part of his agenda.
The PACT Act represents one of the largest health and benefits expansions in the VA’s history. The bill expands disability compensation and health care benefits for Veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service. Once the bill is signed by President Biden, new presumptive conditions will be eligible for VA benefits and healthcare. The PACT Act addresses illnesses acquired by exposure to toxic burn pits, radiation, certain herbicides, Agent Orange, and other toxins.
This legislation will expand health care for combat veterans who served after 9/11, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand the VA’s list of service presumptions, and improve resources to support the VA’s claims processing. The PACT Act will bolster the VA’s workforce, facilities, and claims processing capabilities.
The Senate voted to name this legislation in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson who was deployed to Iraq and Kosovo with the Ohio National Guard. Sgt. Robinson died in 2020 after a 3-year battle with a rare form of lung cancer related to toxic exposure during his military service.