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Butler County veterans discuss health care and disability benefits with Sen. Sherrod Brown

Apr. 1—US Sen. Sherrod Brown visited Hamilton Friday to hold a roundtable discussion with a group of veterans to hear their concerns about health care and disability benefits in the wake of the PACT Act that passed last year.

Democrats Brown and US Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who is a veteran pilot who lost her legs in a helicopter crash in Iraq, invited a small group of Butler County veterans to discuss health care and disability benefits for those who have been harmed by toxic exposure. Veterans are now eligible for these benefits due to the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act that became law last year.

“This law is the most comprehensive expansion of benefits for veterans who have faced toxic exposure in our country’s history,” said Brown. “We’re working to get the word out to veterans across Ohio. If you were exposed to toxins while serving our country, you deserve the benefits you’ve earned. Period. No exceptions.”

Butler County Veterans Service Commission Executive Director Mike Farmer told the Journal-News Brown is traveling to all 88 counties to hear veterans’ concerns. He said the senators spent an hour-and-a-half with about nine veterans.

“The willingness of Senator Brown and Senator Duckworth to sit down and discuss the PACT Act and food insecurities from the perspective of the veterans within Butler County is priceless,” Farmer said. “The open conversations and dialogue in this type of small and intimate setting are one step to ensure that all veterans; past, present and future will continue to receive the benefits which they have earned, and know that their voices can be heard from Butler County , Ohio.”

The PACT Act expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxins. The law added more than 20 conditions related to exposure, including high blood pressure, now presumed to be related to military service.

Before the act, veterans faced higher hurdles in order to demonstrate past toxic exposure.

The legislation is named after Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, a Central Ohio veteran who passed away in 2020 at age 39 from lung cancer after exposure to burn pits during a one-year deployment in Iraq in 2006.

The PACT Act is the result of a years-long fight by Brown, veterans and advocates for secure access to the Department of Veterans Affairs health care and disability benefits for veterans who are exposed to toxins.

He now is working with Ohio veterans, their families and advocates to bring additional attention to provisions in the PACT Act so veterans can get the care they’ve earned and deserved.