Senate poised to pass bill helping soldiers exposed to toxic substances

Published by JORDAN WILLIAMS AND RACHEL FRAZIN


Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson deployed to Iraq and Kosovo with the Ohio National Guard, but the battle didn’t end when he returned home.


After returning to Ohio, Robinson experienced gushy nosebleeds and bleeding from his ear caused by a rare autoimmune disease.


In 2017, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that his oncologist said only could’ve been caused by prolonged toxic exposure.


Despite these health issues, Robinson’s family was unable to get caregiver benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) because they couldn’t prove that his illness was caused by his military service.


Robinson’s mother-in-law, Susan Zeier, stood alongside lawmakers and advocates at a press event in Washington this past week and explained the tiring ordeal of taking care of Heath before he died of his cancer in 2020. Robinson’s ailments included spontaneous vomiting while his nose bleeds, all of which made it difficult for him to breathe.


“Needless to say, Heath spent his final three years battling the war that followed him home,” Zeier said. “He told us that he is a soldier and soldiers don’t know how to give up.”


Two years after Robinson’s death, Congress is poised to pass legislation in his honor to help millions of veterans like him.


The Senate is set to vote this week on the Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act to expand healthcare and other benefits for a new generation of veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals. The bill would largely benefit those who served after 9/11 and were exposed to toxic substances during that time.


Advocates are hailing it as a major step for helping these individuals, but some say more needs to be done to address past and ongoing exposures to toxic substances in the military.


“It’s a huge deal, particularly for…the post-9/11 wounded, ill and injured,” said Aleks Morosky, government affairs deputy director at the Wounded Warrior Project....


Read full article on The Hill.

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