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Deadline approaching for veterans exposed to toxic substances to apply for benefits, Bannock County offers walk-in hours to help

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Commissioner Press Releases, Highlights, Newsroom

Veterans who were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances in recent wars are encouraged to file for expanded benefits before August 9, 2023.

In 2022, congress passed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) Act, the largest VA expansion in history. The new law expands benefits to veterans, including their dependents and survivors, who served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 theaters of military action.

Bannock County Veteran Services Coordinator Melissa Hartman is offering walk-in appointments for eligible veterans and their dependents or survivors to ensure they have access to these benefits before the deadline of August 9, 2023.

“I want to make sure all of our veterans who have earned and deserve these benefits get them. That’s why I’m offering walk-in hours for people to file an Intent to File before the deadline, which will ensure your benefits go into effect as early as possible,” Hartman said.

An ‘Intent to File’ is a protection of the effective date, not a claim. Those who complete an Intent to File must have a formal claim submitted within 12 months of the submission and will require a regular appointment to be scheduled with the Bannock County Veterans Services Office.

Walk-In Hours:

Thursday, August 3, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Monday, August 7, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tuesday, August 8, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

For questions or more information about walk-in sessions, please contact the Bannock County Veteran Services Office at (208)282-4245.

More information about the PACT Act can be found here.

The Veteran Health Administration (VHA) is now required to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran enrolled in VA Health Care. Veterans who deployed to a combat zone and have not enrolled in VA Health Care must apply before the special enrollment period deadline, Sept. 30, 2023. After this date, you will be subject to all regulations and requirements for health care eligibility.

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) added more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures, including some radiation. These conditions are subject to service connection and, ultimately, compensation. Veterans can file for service connection of a presumptive condition at any time after diagnosis. If a veteran already has a diagnosis, they must submit an Intent to File before the August 9, 2023, deadline in order to ensure the claim is backdated to August 10, 2022.

Eligible Deployments: 

  • Gulf War (including Desert Storm/Desert Shield and OEF/OIF)
  • Vietnam/Agent Orange (including in the Republic of Vietnam, aboard a U.S. Military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam, on a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, U.S. Army installation in Thailand or Royal Thai Air Force base. These bases include U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, or Don Muang, Laos, Guam or American Samoa, Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province, Johnston Atoll)
  • Post-9/11/Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits (Including Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Neutral zone between Iraq/Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf, Red Sea The airspace above any of these locations
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