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Press Release

Rep. Castor Statement on House Passage of Bill to Address Burn Pits and Connect 3.5M Toxic-Exposed Veterans with VA Health Care

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the below statement after H.R. 3967 – the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 or Honoring our PACT Act, passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 256-174. This legislation will finally treat toxic exposure as a cost of war by addressing the full range of issues impacting toxic-exposed veterans including access to earned benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I cosponsored the Honoring Our PACT Act to authorize VA health care to more than 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits and establish a presumption of service connection for over 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers. When our servicemembers deploy to defend our nation, the United States promises to serve them as well as they served us once they return. Yet, many veterans have not enjoyed the fulfillment of that promise due to current restrictions on toxic-exposed veterans' access to VA care and benefits. With the Honoring our PACT Act, we will make good on the pact we made to provide veterans with the health care and services they have earned.

“I am grateful for the work of Tampa Bay veterans, including my friend, retired Army Colonel DJ Reyes, who are national leaders in the fight to secure care for toxic-exposed veterans. I am grateful that DJ shared just how important this bill is, and I proudly voted yes on behalf of DJ and other Tampa neighbors who served our nation. I will work with my Senate colleagues in the days ahead to pass comprehensive legislation to help toxic-exposed veterans and get it to President’s desk as soon as possible.”

A video on the importance of the legislation filmed by retired Army Colonel and Tampa resident DJ Reyes can be found here.