MONTEREY COUNTY — U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta convened members of the veterans community for a panel discussion marking the first anniversary of the Honoring Our PACT Act, landmark legislation that for the first time ensured veterans exposed to toxic substances during service get the care they deserve.
Last Monday, Panetta brought together leaders from across California’s 19th Congressional District to highlight the need for affected veterans to apply for benefits before Aug. 9 to ensure their compensation is backdated. Leaders discussed success stories, challenges and the work that lies ahead.
“Veterans who returned home from the Global War on Terror, Gulf War and Vietnam War have long dealt with the serious health impacts of toxic exposure,” Panetta said. “With the PACT Act, we’re keeping our promise to serve those who served us by providing the care these heroes need and deserve. We’ve made progress, but there’s more work ahead. To get the benefits you are entitled to, I urge veterans throughout California’s 19th Congressional District to file a claim, or at a minimum an ‘intent to file,’ by the Aug. 9 deadline in order to receive backdated benefits.”
While there is no hard deadline for PACT Act benefits, most veterans who apply or who submit their “Intent to File” by Aug. 9 will have their benefits backdated to Aug. 10, 2022. This could mean thousands of dollars in backdated disability compensation for vets who submit their applications on time.
Joining Congressman Panetta on July 31 were leaders from the Department of Veterans Affairs and local Veterans Service Organizations from California’s 19th Congressional District, including: Director of the Oakland Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office Sergio Chao; VA Palo Alto Deputy Chief of Staff Rina Shah; Monterey County Veterans Interim Director Jack Murphy; Santa Clara County Veterans Interim Director Steve Fondacaro; Santa Cruz County Veterans Service Officer Dean Kaufman; and San Luis Obispo County Veterans Service Officer Morgan Boyd.
Nearly 3.5 million veterans around the country are eligible right now for care and benefits thanks to this law. So far, 665,000 veterans have applied for PACT Act-related benefits across the country, more than 3.9 million veterans have received new toxic exposure screenings, and more than 287,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care.
PACT Act-related claims submitted by Aug. 9 will be backdated to Aug. 10, 2022, so eligible veterans are encouraged to file their claims as soon as possible.
Veterans and their families can find more information on PACT Act benefits by visiting VA.gov/pact or by calling 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411) (TTY: 711). Rep. Panetta’s office can also assist with VA-related issues and can be contacted at 831-424-2229 or through his website panetta.house.gov.