Blackburn, Moran, Tester Bill To Expand VA Health Care For Post-9/11 Veterans Unanimously Clears Senate

March 3, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENN. – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) bringing it one step closer to law. The senators’ Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act would expand Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans — including those suffering from conditions related to toxic exposure.


The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. 


“Our veterans encountered countless dangers while bravely defending our nation, including extended exposure to toxic substances,” said Senator Blackburn. “The Volunteer State is home to heroes who served in every major conflict since WWII, and this bipartisan Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act will ensure that those exposed to toxic substances will receive the care they deserve.


“Supporting our veterans has a way of bringing us together, and I appreciate my Senate colleagues understanding the urgency of this bill and working to quickly pass it by unanimous consent,” said Ranking Member Moran. “Addressing the needs of veterans exposed to burn pits cannot wait, and I urge my colleagues in the House to follow suit, pass this important legislation and bring us one step closer to fulfilling our duty to Post-9/11 veterans.”


“Unanimous passage of our Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act sends a clear message to toxic-exposed veterans across the country that we are committed to moving the needle on addressing toxic exposures in a comprehensive and bipartisan way,” said Chairman Tester. “Our bill is a necessary step in connecting an entire generation of veterans with the VA care they need and cannot wait for any longer. This kind of swift action is a testament to what can be accomplished when we all row in the same direction, and I encourage my House colleagues to join us in getting this bill across the finish line to quickly deliver relief where it’s most needed.”


Approximately 3.5 million Post-9/11 combat veterans may have experienced some level of exposure to burn pits during their service, and nearly one-third of those veterans are currently unable to access VA care. Among its many provisions, the senators’ bipartisan Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act would extend the period of health care eligibility for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001 from five years to ten years following discharge—enrolling a new wave of previously-ineligible veterans into the VA system. This bill also includes critical measures to improve training on toxic exposures for VA employees, mandate clinical toxic exposure screenings, and bolster federal research on the effects of toxic exposures.