Tomah VA continues to spread word of PACT Act while screening as many veterans as possible for toxic exposure

Published: Jul. 15, 2023 at 8:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOMAH, Wis. (WEAU) - The PACT Act was signed into law almost a year ago after many years of veterans being denied benefits for illnesses relating to their time in service.

The Tomah VA hosted many events to get the word out to veterans since then, including Saturday’s PACT Act Information Fair with music, therapy animals, information booths and screenings for veterans.

Isaac Cline with the Tomah VA leads the screening process and said so far of the more than 14,800 veterans screens, 6,000 of them tested positive for toxic exposure.

Despite that growing statistic, Cline said it is good news having more and more veterans coming for screenings.

“Before we were not able to offer it as much as we are now. That’s why we want to get those screenings. That’s why they are mandated. So we know which veterans are exposed. So we can get them that care that they deserve and need. And also so we can help them and get them into the system and earn back their trust,” said Cline.

Screenings are the first step to establishing the connection between illness and service, making it possible to receive benefits. The screenings also serve another purpose.

“We’re making sure that it’s on their health record. Why that is important is so we can catch those conditions early,” said Cline.

Johnny Meyer, Michael West and Ralph Palmer are among the many veterans that were screened and filed claims.

“Happy to see that America is finally recognizing the hidden dangers of our service people who are exposed, too. It may be too late for some, but at least we’re getting help for those who are needing it now,” said Meyer.

“The VA office in La Crosse is two months behind because of the rush into the office. It’s late. Maybe a few years late, but they’re doing the best they can,” said West.

Palmer in particular got sick from toxic water at Camp Lejeune, and veterans like him are also considered under the PACT Act.

“Even though I was cautioned that filing a traditional VA claim might not do me any justice, it did,” said Palmer.

Cline recommends veterans who believe that they were exposed to get screened, even if they are in good health.

One important deadline coming up is Aug. 9. Claims filed by then will be eligible for retroactive compensation, for up to a year’s worth, for claims backdated to Aug. 10, 2022.

To file a claim, click here. It is recommended to file online for a faster process, as staff at offices are trying to process the many claims they are getting recently.

For more information on the PACT Act, click here.