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Hickenlooper Cheers 20,000 Colorado PACT Act Claims Approved, 1 Million Nationally

May 22, 2024

Over 20,000 claims for Colorado veterans have been approved in the largest-ever expansion of veteran health care

Nearly two years in, more than 888,000 veterans nationwide are receiving new service-connected benefits due to toxic exposure

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper celebrated the announcement that more than 1 million PACT Act related claims have been approved for veterans who have been impacted by toxic exposures.

“We passed the PACT Act to honor our promise to those who served our nation. Now, veterans in Colorado and across the country are receiving these life-changing benefits, and we won’t stop until every veteran gets the care they deserve,” said Hickenlooper.

Over the past two years, Hickenlooper has traveled across Colorado to encourage veterans to apply for PACT Act benefits if they believed they had been affected. He visited DurangoPuebloDenver, and Colorado Springs to hold listening sessions with veterans to discuss the PACT Act and learn about what they need most. Colorado is home to over 400,000 veterans, including nearly 70,000 veterans who served in post-9/11 wars. 

The bipartisan PACT Act, which was passed by Congress in 2022, dramatically expanded access to health care and VA benefits for veterans, including those suffering from exposure to toxic burn pits. Since the passage of the PACT Act, over 888,000 veterans and their survivors are now receiving new service-connected disability benefits, including screenings for toxic exposures, reduced care delays, accelerated health care eligibility, and more. Over 20,000 claims for Colorado veterans have been approved.

Burn pits were commonly used by the military for open-air disposal of nearly all waste, including plastic, medical supplies, and chemicals, at bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other overseas locations. The resulting smoke has been linked to a variety of cancers and terminal illnesses in service members who were exposed. For years, veterans had been denied coverage for medical conditions thought to be associated with burn pits due to a lack of research establishing a clear connection between exposure and illness. The PACT Act established a presumption of service connection between a veteran’s exposure to burn pits and over 20 associated illnesses, removing the burden of proof from the veteran.


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