The bad PR brought them around, and they passed the bill
on a second go in early August. The new law will expand the Department of Veterans Affairs health care eligibility to veterans who might be or are affected by exposure to toxic burn pits, and gives a longer period for veterans to enroll following exposure, from five years to 10 for post-9/11 combat veterans.
It makes it easier for veterans to qualify for service-connected health care, and includes 23 ailments as qualifying for those benefits. It extends the benefits to those veterans survivors. I also funds new toxic-exposure research, and will try to expand screening for exposure-related illnesses for veterans enrolled in VA health care.
Danielle and Brielle Robinson, the wife and daughter of the late U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, introduced Biden at the signing ceremony. Robinson spoke about the death of her husband, whose name is included in the long title of the bill. She said the joy of his return from service turned into “the biggest nightmare of our lives” after he was diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 lung cancer 10 years later. “Ours is just one story,” she said. “So many military families have had to fight this terrible emotional battle. So many veterans are still battling burn pit illnesses. Today, too many have succumbed to those illnesses, as well.”
“I’m just in awe of your family’s courage,” Biden told the Robinsons. “I really mean that. Through the pain, you found purpose to demand that we do better as a nation. And today, we are.”
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