Veterans Disability Lawyer Todd M. Wesche Explains the Effect of New Toxic Exposure Legislation on Veterans
Industry: Legal Services
Attorney and former active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force explains some advantages of this groundbreaking law.
Boston, MA (PRUnderground) December 20th, 2022
The President signed into law the PACT Act—Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022—at the beginning of August 2022.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has undergone several major legislative changes due to this bill’s passage, the most significant of which is the expansion of VA benefits to those exposed to toxic substances during military service, said Todd M. Wesche, founder and managing member of Vetus Legal LLC.
“This historic legislation expands VA treatment and compensation to veterans who suffer from a disability due to their military service,” Wesche said. “Many are dealing with disabling illnesses and chronic pain from the lasting effects of serious injuries, and this new law will help millions of veterans.”
Pre-PACT Act Problems
Before the PACT Act was signed into law, veterans were burdened with demonstrating a causal connection between hazardous exposure and their ailment. This required establishing that the veteran was initially exposed and the exposure is the main contributor to a current condition.
Now, in some circumstances, veterans will no longer be required to demonstrate that exposure to toxic substances during service caused their disease or disability. Instead, this will be the default assumption made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Wesche said the lower standard of proof makes it less likely that VA disability claims will be rejected. A lack of adequate evidence is one of the most frequent grounds for denying a VA disability claim.
Veterans often have a severe burden of evidence. A medical opinion nexus letter is usually required to demonstrate the connection between military service and the present medical condition. This was previously nearly impossible or extremely difficult to prove for diseases brought on by toxic exposure.
The VA list of presumptive conditions has been expanded under the PACT Act. You merely need to demonstrate that you have the presumptive condition, served during the designated times, and served at designated locations. It will be presumed that your service caused to the disease absent evidence sufficient to rebut that presumption.
Common Types of Toxic Exposure
Soldiers who heroically defend our nation could be exposed to substances that are harmful to their health over time.
Veterans frequently encounter hazardous exposure in the following situations:
- Agent Orange (during the Vietnam Conflict era)
- Tainted drinking water at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC
- Radiation in the years following World War II
- Burn pits in Southwest Asia since 1991
Under the PACT Act, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been added to the list of potential exposure areas for veterans who served in Southwest Asia since 1991. Additionally, those who served after 9/11 in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen will be recognized.
Veterans who served in these areas throughout the designated periods won’t have to show that their service brought on their ailment. Instead, the VA will reasonably assess that exposure to toxins caused the sickness.
Here is a comprehensive list of illnesses considered:
- Asthma diagnosed post-service
- Brain cancer
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Constrictive or obliterative bronchiolitis
- Gastrointestinal cancers
- Granulomatous disease
- Head cancers
- Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
- Kidney cancer
- Lymphatic cancers
- Neck cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Reproductive cancer of any type
- Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type
About Vetus Legal LLC
Vetus Legal LLC handles VA disability compensation claims for U.S. military veterans as well as their dependents and survivors. We are devoted to assisting you and your family in receiving financial stability for your sacrifices. For more information or a free case review, contact Vetus Legal LLC.
About Vetus Legal LLC
Vetus Legal LLC is a Boston-based law firm representing U.S. military veterans and their families throughout the country. Founded by U.S. Air Force veteran Todd M. Wesche, Vetus Legal LLC has worked since 2017 to assist veterans and their dependents and survivors with VA disability claims at the Regional Office, Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.