May 26, 2021

Senator Hassan Advances Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances

Senator Hassan’s Bipartisan Bill to Increase Veteran Employment at VA Also Passes Out of Committee

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today helped advance historic bipartisan legislation to address the failure to provide sufficient compensation and care for veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service.

 

The bipartisan Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act of 2021 that passed the committee includes key pieces of Senator Hassan’s bipartisan bill, the TEAM Act. The comprehensive legislation would allow all veterans who were at risk of toxic exposure, including 3.5 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, to obtain immediate and lifelong access to health care from the VA. It would also establish a new science-based and veteran-focused process for the establishment of new presumptive conditions, and would provide benefits to thousands of toxic exposure veterans who have been long-ignored or forgotten, including Agent Orange veterans suffering from hypertension. 

 

In addition, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee also passed Senators Hassan and Mike Braun’s (R-IN) bipartisan Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, which would help the Department of Defense and VA actively recruit and hire transitioning service members with a health care background to fill the VA’s more than 45,000 open positons.  

 

“Service members know better than anyone about the cost of war, and when they return home, we must provide these brave men and women with the care that they need to address any service-related injuries or illnesses,” Senator Hassan said. “I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this historic legislation to overhaul how veterans receive treatment for toxic substance exposure through the VA, and help ensure that no veteran is left behind. I am also pleased that my bipartisan legislation to hire transitioning service members to help fill critical health care shortages at the VA passed out of committee. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get these important bipartisan bills across the finish line and signed into law.”

 

Senator Hassan is working to ensure that veterans exposed to toxins in the line of duty receive the health care, benefits, and support that they need. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a measure that Senator Hassan supported to ensure that Vietnam War veterans can more easily access care for additional diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure. Additionally, Senator Hassan cosponsored legislation that was included in the veterans package that was signed into law last Congress to direct the VA to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to assess possible health conditions linked to service members' exposure to toxic substances at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (K2) in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, Senator Hassan joined colleagues in reintroducing the bipartisan Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act to formally recognize that certain veterans were exposed to burn pits during their service in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, which would make it easier for them to access VA health care and benefits for illnesses and diseases related to exposure to burn pits. 

  

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