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Boise VA to host meeting on how veterans can receive PACT Act benefits

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The Boise VA Medical Center will participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs' "PACT Act Week of Action" on Dec. 13 to help veterans sign up for health care benefits under a new law meant to help veterans exposed to toxic chemicals and burn pits during their military service. (Audrey Dutton/Idaho Capital Sun)

If you are a veteran who was exposed to toxic substances while serving in the military, a new law called the PACT Act may make you eligible for VA benefits and health care.

The Boise VA will host an informational meeting on how veterans can apply for and receive these benefits from 4-4:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at its medical center, 500 W. Fort St. in Boise.

The PACT Act will benefit veterans of the Vietnam War, Gulf War and post-9/11 eras who were exposed to toxic fumes, burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation and other environmental hazards, according to a press release from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Survivors of toxic-exposed-veterans — and veterans who served in specific countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia — are also potentially eligible.

The day after President Joe Biden signed the bill into law in August, veterans set an all-time record for benefits claims filed online, and more than 136,000 have applied for benefits under the toxic exposure law as of mid-November, according to previous States Newsroom reporting. The VA expects the number of veterans and surviving family members applying could reach more than 700,000 in the coming months.

The Boise meeting is part of the VA’s “week of action” from Dec. 10-17 to ensure veterans know about PACT Act benefits, and more than 90 VA facilities around the country will hold in-person town halls, according to the VA.

Veterans in attendance can get help enrolling in VA health care or applying for VA benefits. Interested veterans are encouraged to bring any paperwork they have, such as their DD214 or other military paperwork, to the town hall. VA benefits and claims representatives will also be in attendance to answer disability and compensation questions, according to the VA.

If you can’t attend the town hall, visit VA.gov/PACT or call 1-800-MYVA411 to learn more about the PACT Act and how to apply for benefits

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.