VA secretary issues statement on PACT Act

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By Raymond Taylor | Archuleta County Veterans Service Office

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough statement on PACT Act:

“President Biden has stated we have a sacred obligation to support veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. As part of his first State of the Union address, he identified supporting veterans as a key pillar of his Unity Agenda and an issue that can unite the country. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act makes good on that promise. 

“In my recent press conference, I spoke in detail about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ strong support of the PACT Act because the bipartisan bill will help us advance one of the department’s top priorities: getting more veterans into VA care. President Biden has also been clear about his commitment to getting more VA health care to veterans impacted by toxic exposures, which is why we need Congress to send the PACT Act to his desk.

“Study after study demonstrates veterans in VA care do better — and this legislation could bring up to 3.5 million more veterans into our care. The PACT Act would be one of the largest substantive health and benefit expansions in VA’s history, comparable in scale and impact to the Agent Orange Act. It would codify many of the ongoing efforts by the department to improve its process for establishment of presumptions of service connection due to toxic exposure, reducing the burden for veterans and increasing transparency. 

“We support the expansion of access to VA health care in the PACT Act and will work to ensure that the expansion of eligibility for health care does not result in the delay or disruption of care for those veterans already receiving health care from VA.

“I want to personally thank Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) for beginning to address the operational impact on VA by investing heavily in VA claims processing, VA’s workforce and VA health care facilities. These investments and more are necessary for us to deliver the timely, quality services, benefits and care our veterans deserve.”

Grant allows Vets4Vets to help local veterans 

Vets4Vets of Archuleta County has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This financial grant is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

Contact Vets4Vets at https://vets4vetspsco.org/ or dharps@gmail.com.

Contact information

Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The office: (970) 264-4013, fax number: (970) 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive, on all but the first Tuesday. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact (970) 880-8387 for more details.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at (970) 946-2540.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at (970) 903-9690.

Important information

• Vets4Vets: (970) 880-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: (970) 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.