VA offers free, walk-in toxic exposure screenings

PACT Act expands benefits for veterans exposed to chemicals during military service.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 4:46 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Last August, President Biden signed the PACT Act which expands benefits for veterans exposed to chemicals during military service.

“It opened the door for veterans to file for new conditions from Vietnam and also from the Gulf War including OEF, Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Maria Ruvalcava, a DAV National Service Officer in Reno.

On Tuesday, the Regional Veteran Affairs Benefits Office offered free, walk-in toxic exposure screenings.

These screenings determine whether a veteran was exposed to burn pits or chemicals like Agent Orange, and might be entitled to compensation.

“I saw a thing on the TV about hypertension being connected to Agent Orange,” said Robert Hamm, a Vietnam War Veteran.

Hamm was screened and filed a new claim for more benefits.

“If you have a disability, get it re-evaluated you might get more,” said Hamm.

Kristina Tallerico, the Acting Director of the VA’s regional office, says this is particularly historic for post 9/11 veterans. They don’t have to wait for benefits like so many did before them.

“Some of these gentleman are getting out of the military and immediately becoming service connected under the PACT Act presumption,” Tallerico said.

“It’s very historic, it’s really monumental and it’s really timely.”

Tallerico says even if veterans are unsure whether they are entitled to compensation, it’s worth getting screened.

Call Veteran Affairs to set up a screening appointment or learn more about filing a claim.