WACO, Texas — A long road for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan reaches an end as President Biden signs the PACT Act into law Wednesday.
”This is the most significant law our nation has ever passed to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service,” said Biden.
The bill allows the Veterans Administration to diagnose and treat 23 different illnesses that may be caused by exposure to burn pits.
News that veterans like Dorothia Goodson, who served 3 tours in Iraq after 9/11 and was exposed to burn pits, say should have come sooner.
”It’s just a sad commentary that you have to fight so hard for 1%. Which is not a very high number of people who qualify to serve,” said Goodson. “These are the ones that you have to take care of and it’s just a few who qualified to serve.”
Army veteran Tim Ferch, who relies on the VA for medical coverage, is happy to hear that he can get treatment for symptoms he believes are caused by his extensive exposure to burn pits.
”This is one of the steps and yes, I would like to go get checked out on it now, for sure,” said Ferch. “I mean, I would have really liked it before, but I needed something like this to pass before I could get the government to accept it.”
Though he’s excited this day is finally has finally come, he’s not happy it was such a hard fight to get here.
”There was an outcry and there was a celebrity involved. So, now it was that kind of an outcry,” he said. “I don’t think it should have been necessary but, it’s unfortunately what this has come to now.”
Unnecessary or not, veterans are humbled to see celebrities like comedian Jon Stewart fight with them to be heard.
”It’s an awesome feeling to know that even though certain people in the society did not serve, they are willing to stand up for those who did. Simply because people have to know that freedom isn’t free,” said Goodson.
For many veterans, the PACT Act is another step towards the government keeping a promise to take care of them if they fought for their country.