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Biden touts PACT Act benefits for veterans in Nashua visit

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Biden touts PACT Act benefits for veterans in Nashua visit

May 21, 2024 | 4:39 pm ET
By Annmarie Timmins
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Biden touts PACT Act benefits for veterans in Nashua visit
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President Joe Biden touted the PACT Act in front of about 100 people at the YMCA of Greater Nashua. (Annmarie Timmins | New Hampshire Bulletin)

President Joe Biden was in New Hampshire Tuesday to talk up his efforts to expand health benefits for veterans, most notably the PACT Act, which he signed into law two years ago. 

“We owe you big,” Biden said of veterans during a stop at the YMCA of Greater Nashua, where he spoke for about 10 minutes. “I’ve long said … that America has a lot of obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation. And that’s to prepare those we send into harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they come home, and if they don’t come home care for their families.” 

Biden’s stops also included a private meeting with veterans in Merrimack that was closed to the media. The White House press office said the Nashua stop, attended by about 100 lawmakers, veterans, and others, was open to the public though Biden did not take questions from the audience or media. 

The PACT Act legislation expands health care benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. It adds more than 20 “presumptive” conditions that allow veterans to receive benefits without having to prove exposure during their military service caused their health condition. 

It’s unclear how many of New Hampshire’s nearly 96,360 veterans are eligible for PACT Act benefits because all could apply but not all would meet the qualifying criteria. As of this week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had received 5,486 claims from New Hampshire veterans and granted about 3,305 of them. According to its PACT Act interactive dashboard, it has approved about 75 percent of claims received nationally. 

The dashboard also includes information about available benefits, how to apply, and where to find local informational sessions on benefits. Veterans or their family members can also call the VA at 800-698-2411 to inquire about PACT Act benefits.