BROWNING — A PACT ACT clinic for military veterans was held at the Blackfeet Community College in Browning on Thursday, October 19, 2023. Veterans from across the state came to learn information or file a claim or even start their VA process.
The PACT Act - officially the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 - was signed into law in August 2022. The act works to expand healthcare and benefits for veterans.
Mainly the expansion is for those veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. Generations of veterans are now able to see if they meet eligibility requirements to receive care for possible toxic exposure which can lead to various health problems.
Leo Pollock explained, "This is actually a VA bringing benefits here. Hometown event. We also have the veteran, the benefits administration here from the VA. We also have the health administration here for the VA. So if any veterans are looking to file claims or if they already have claims that they've started but need to follow up on, they'll be able to do all of that today if they haven't even enrolled in the VA health care system yet. This also gives them a great opportunity to get that ball rolling as well while they're here with us today.
These clinics are focusing on veterans living in rural and minority areas that don't have the services or resources near them.
W.J. “Buck” Richardson noted, "You know, people ask me, well, what's a minority? And I have the same definition I tell people all the time is when you take veterans is a whole in one hand, you take the population of the U.S. and the other hand. In my definition, all veterans are a minority. We reach out to all Veterans, all Veterans earn the same benefits, and we try to make sure that all veterans and their family members get the benefits that they've earned.
Heather Osborne said, "It means a whole lot to me, and especially when you look at rural areas like this where the provider network for the VA just isn't there or it's just too far and they can't quite get to those facilities. So it's just I feel I feel a lot of pride and I'm just overjoyed that I can bring that to them and just kind of make the process for them just a little bit easier in that sense. That's the most important part for me."
Click here to learn more about the PACT Act.