Biden Signs Bills to Help Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits, Radiation

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Another bill increases availability of mammograms and upgrades mammography services.

President Biden signed into law several bills aimed at getting additional help to veterans who developed cancer and other chronic conditions after being exposed to toxic burn pits, radiation, and other hazards, as well as a measure to make mammograms more accessible for veterans.

“At the State of the Union, I talked about [how] we need to talk about burn pits that incinerate wastes of war, tires, poisonous chemicals, jet fuels, and so much more,” Biden said at the bill signing on Tuesday. “Toxic smoke, with the poisons spreading through our bases and into the lungs of our troops. And when they came home, many of the fittest and best-trained warriors we’ve ever had were not the same — headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer. My son Beau was one of them.” Beau Biden, who served in Iraq as part of the Delaware Army National Guard, died of brain cancer in May 2015 at age 46.

Among the nine veteran-related bills Biden signed into law were:

  • The Radiation Exposure Compensation Extension Act of 2022. This will extend for 2 years a program to compensate those exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing, or uranium mining or processing, and who subsequently developed one of a variety of cancers or chronic conditions. Compensation ranges from $50,000 for certain people injured by atmospheric nuclear testing to $100,000 for people injured by uranium mining.
  • The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act. This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit a strategic plan for improving breast imaging services for veterans; implement a 3-year pilot program to provide telescreening mammography services for veterans who live in remote locations; and upgrade all mammography services at its facilities to use 3-D breast imaging. The VA also must study the availability of access to genetic testing for breast cancer for veterans diagnosed with the disease, and update guidelines to increase use of molecular testing and genetic counseling for veterans diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act. This bill expands eligibility for Veterans Health Administration mammography screenings to veterans who served in certain locations during specified periods, including those who were exposed to toxic substances.

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