New VA PACT Act deadline set for combat zone veterans

Benefit includes National Guard and Reservist members who served in combat zones

The newest Veterans Affairs PACT Act benefits deadline is Sept. 30.

If you’re a veteran who was deployed to a combat zone but never enrolled in VA health care, you should sign up now, the Department of Veterans Affairs says.

Veterans must meet the following requirements:

  • Veterans who deployed to a combat zone, even if they weren’t in combat.
  • Veterans who never enrolled for VA health care.
  • Veterans who left the military between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013.

Those people are eligible to enroll directly in VA health care through the PACT Act, the largest expansion of VA benefits in generations.

The act means that if an eligible veteran has an eligible health condition and served in an applicable place in an applicable time, the VA assumes the condition was caused by military service.

Marc Rohner, a program specialist at the Dayton VA, advises veterans who think they meet the criteria to call 1-800-MyVa411 (800-698-2411) to start the process.

Veterans may also take a copy of their DD214 discharge paperwork, a government issued ID and visit any VA medical center or community based outpatient clinic to fill out a 1010EZ enrollment form.

One easy way of checking eligibility: Does your DD214 certificate of release show that you received eminent danger combat or hazard pay?

That indicates you served in a combat zone, Rohner said.

The enrollment period gives veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones an opportunity to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for disability compensation benefits.

“Not every person who raised their hand and took an oath and served is going to be eligible for Veterans Health Administration benefits,” Rohner said. “There are different priority groups and rankings. Do you have a Purple Heart? Were you a POW (prisoner of war)? Are you service-connected? Do you have financial limitations? These are all some of the factors for eligibility.”

Since the PACT Act was signed into law in August 2022, more than 344,000 veterans have enrolled, and more than 4.2 million enrolled veterans have been screened for toxic exposures, the government says.

“This PACT Act was a huge game-changer,” Rohner said.

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