MONTICELLO – Friday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY-19), Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Sullivan County Manager Joshua Potosek, and Sullivan County Legislator Luis Alvarez visited the Monticello VA Clinic to highlight the implementation of the recently passed Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. Passed in 2022, the PACT Act included Gillibrand’s signature legislation to establish a presumptive service connection to certain illnesses for service members and veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins, eliminating many obstacles they have to go through to receive crucial health care and benefits. It is estimated that roughly 3.5 million military personnel could have been exposed to burn pits and are eligible to receive benefits.
During her visit, Gillibrand and staff members helped veterans exposed to burn pits learn how they can access and apply for these new benefits.
“When the PACT Act was signed into law, it created one of the most significant benefits expansions in VA history,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Today, I’m visiting the Monticello VA Clinic to ensure our vets across Sullivan County have the information and assistance needed to take full advantage of these new health care and disability benefits. I fought tooth and nail to secure these benefits and now my office is here to help make the implementation process of the PACT Act as smooth as possible.”
“As a grateful nation, we have a solemn duty to care for our veterans and provide them with the support they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. That’s why, I applaud the enactment of the Honoring our PACT Act, which expands VA healthcare and benefits for veterans who have been exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances during their service. These brave men and women put their lives on the line to defend our freedom, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they receive the care and assistance they need to cope with the long-term effects of their service,” said Congressman Marc Molinaro (CD 19).
“The PACT Act has had an immediate and profound impact on our local veterans, with our Veterans Service Agency having already assisted in the filing of 47 claims to date,” affirmed Sullivan County District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez, chair of the County Legislature’s Veterans Committee. “Additionally, interest in this benefit has brought younger veterans to our offices, allowing us to make them aware of the other services we offer. I thank Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues for their unwavering and active support of our veterans, their families and the people who serve them,” said Sullivan County Legislator Luis Alvarez.
“I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for coming today to discuss the PACT Act with our local Veterans and community leaders. I have been a tireless advocate for veterans throughout my time in the Assembly, and believe we need to ensure that we provide them the healthcare they deserve. Our veterans put their lives on the line to protect us, and it is only fair that we as a nation take care of them when they return home. I am proud to see the Pact Act is doing just that, and I look forward to helping our local veterans access this care,” said Assemblymember Aileen Gunther.