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ICYMI: Senator Hassan Hosts Roundtable on One-Year Anniversary of the PACT Act Being Passed into Law

Senator Hassan Highlighted Extension for Veterans to Apply for Backdated Benefits Before Midnight Tonight

MANCHESTER – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan hosted a roundtable to mark the one-year anniversary of the PACT Act, which Senator Hassan helped negotiate and pass into law. Participants discussed how the law has helped New Hampshire veterans so far, and how to keep spreading the word about the health care and benefits that New Hampshire veterans can access through the law. Participants also highlighted the deadline extension – to end of the day today, August 14 – for veterans to apply for backdated benefits through the PACT Act.

Throughout the past year in New Hampshire, more than 1,000 veterans have already enrolled in VA health care and more than 2,500 PACT Act-related disability claims have been filed. Senator Hassan was joined by representatives from the Manchester VA Medical Center, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars, New Hampshire American Legion, and the Veterans Benefits Administration.

To read coverage of the event from the Union Leader, see below:

Union Leader: New PACT Act benefit for vets turns a year old

By Kevin Landrigan

[…] U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., hosted a roundtable Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) Act to learn from advocates and veterans about how to improve outreach for this new program.

The event at the American Legion Sweeney Post came the day after the VA announced it was extending from Friday to Monday the deadline for veterans who seek benefits backdated to the Aug. 10, 2022, that President Biden signed it into law.

A bipartisan group of senators including Hassan pushed for the extension after many veterans got an “error message” when they tried to apply on an overwhelmed VA program website earlier this week.

“If veterans attempted to apply in the last few days and got that error message… it will in fact be counted,” Hassan stressed.

Veterans only have to complete a simpler, “intent to file” by Monday and not the full application to qualify for backdated benefits, she said.

The severe injuries post-911 war veterans faced after exposure to burn pits in the Middle East and at U.S. bases were the lightning rod for Congress to pass this largest expansion of benefits in the history of the VA.

This adds 24 medical conditions veterans have presumed to be connected to toxic exposure after service during the Gulf War and Post 911 eras.

These range from many cancers to asthma and chronic sinusitis.

The law also creates new presumptions for Vietnam War veterans that anyone suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension could qualify for enhanced benefits as that could be connected to the veteran’s exposure to Agent Orange, a tactical herbicide widely used in that war theater.

Since this program’s inception, the VA has approved 2,500 claims for enhanced or new benefits for New Hampshire veterans, Hassan said. […]