In August, the president signed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act into law. It expands the number of presumed illnesses related to toxic exposure, making it easier for veterans to receive benefits.
- The VA has already received over 170,000 applications for the benefits being offered by the PACT Act, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for Health, said.
- He explained that the VA wanted to process claims for terminally ill veterans first, so the agency started processing such claims on Dec. 12, while all claims will begin to be processed on Jan. 1.
- The PACT Act afforded the VA higher recruitment and retention bonuses, and the ability to pay people more, which Elnahal hopes helps with the VA’s hiring effort.
- Mental health and suicide prevention is one of the VA’s top priorities for 2023, according to Elnahal.