WASHINGTON — The National Association of Counties (NACo) today applauded the final, bipartisan Senate passage of The Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, a package that will permanently expand access to Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and disability benefits for veterans exposed to airborne toxins during military service.
The legislation will assist millions of veterans suffering from service-connected medical conditions in accessing the federal benefits they are owed. However, passage of this critical legislation underscores the need for Congress to swiftly approve federal resources for County Veteran Services Officers through the bipartisan Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act.
“The PACT Act will help veterans access a range of service-connected federal benefits, a process facilitated by County Veterans Service Officers in 29 states,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “These officers are supported almost entirely by counties and local taxpayers, creating challenges for areas with high demand and counties serving veterans in rural areas. The CVSO Act would enable counties to serve more veterans, especially in underserved and under-resourced rural areas, and improve outcomes.”
The CVSO Act authorizes $50 million annually for five years for competitive grants to states to expand the work of CVSOs or comparable entities. Without additional federal resources, it will be difficult for county governments to meet growing caseloads as millions of veterans begin filing claims based on the PACT Act’s many new presumptive conditions.
“We urge Congress to immediately pass the CVSO Act to ensure effective implementation of the PACT Act at the local level,” said Chase.
View NACo’s veterans affairs resources here.Standard