As thousands of veterans receive PACT Act benefits, VA working to ensure equitable rollout

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Many veterans who served our country were exposed to toxic burn pits and other harmful substances while overseas.


Now the Biden Administration says nearly one million of them are receiving expanded healthcare through the PACT Act.

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Veterans Affairs Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said this is especially important for Black veterans.

There are two and half million African American veterans nationwide and VA data shows those Black veterans are submitting PACT Act related claims at high rates.

“We know that many veterans of color have served in our in our nation’s military specially since post 9/11, and now again, we’re in a position where we’re able to deliver those benefits and that care to those veterans,” said Terrence Hayes, Veterans Affairs Press Secretary.

But in the past, Black veterans haven’t received equal access to VA benefits.

A recent federal Government Accountability Office report found that Black veterans had the lowest approval rate for disability claims among all racial groups between 2010 to 2020. The report shows Black veterans were denied disability claims 14 percent more often than white veterans.

READ: Senate committee examines barriers for women veterans receiving VA healthcare

“This is a high priority for all of us here at VA,” said Hayes.

He said there’s a new Equity Assurance Office within the Veterans Benefits Administration.

“To ensure that every single veteran who comes to VA and files their claim or tries to enroll in a health care gets equal treatment across the board,” he said.

Hayes added the agency is also hosting events to reach more minorities.

“We’re no longer relying on veterans to fit into our VA experience. We’re tailoring our experience to the veterans,” said Hayes.

For the first time ever, the VA will have staff attending the annual NAACP convention this summer. Hayes said their goal is to get more Black veterans enrolled in the healthcare benefits they deserve.

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