Although we may never fully repay the enormous debt we owe those who have served in uniform, today the United States Congress has taken significant steps to uphold this sacred obligation. The bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson honoring our PACT Act of 2022 is the biggest expansion of benefits for service-related health conditions in 30 years and the biggest bill ever to comprehensively address exposure to combustion fireplaces.

I called for this legislation in my State of the Union address, as part of my unity agenda to help bring our nation together. Congress has won a decisive, bipartisan victory for American veterans. I would like to thank Testing Chairman and Ranking Member Moran and President Takano and Ranking Member Bost for their tireless work in pushing through this major reform, as well as the brave veterans and advocates whose tenacity and heart ensured the implementation of this legislation.

For the millions of veterans who may have been exposed to harmful toxins, this bill means faster access to health care services and other benefits. It could mean the difference between life and death for many people with toxicity-related illnesses. For the spouse or child of a military member who died from toxic exposure, struggling to rebuild their life, this bill will be a lifeline. This means a monthly stipend for a surviving spouse and children, and access to tuition to help cover the cost of college. This means access to life insurance, home loan assistance, and health care assistance. It matters.

I have long said that we have many obligations as a nation, but we have only one sacred obligation: to prepare and equip those we send to war and to care for them and their families when they’re going home.

I look forward to signing this bill into law, so that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the comprehensive health care and benefits they have earned and deserve.

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