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Lankford Keeps His Focus on Quality Veteran Care

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today opposed a bill that will cause delays in benefits and care for veterans. Lankford opposed the Honoring Our PACT Act, though the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 86 to 11. Lankford addressed his concerns with the PACT Act in a Facebook Live video earlier today and he opposed the bill when the Senate voted on it in June.

“I stand fully behind keeping our promise to care for veterans who were injured or developed chronic illnesses due to their service to our nation. Thousands of veterans are already receiving care for their exposure to toxic burn pits and Agent Orange, but this bill would remove the science of presumptions and greatly lengthen the waiting period for all veteran care,” said Lankford. “Oklahoma veterans continue to share their frustration with the length of time it takes for the VA to get through its paperwork and care backlog to offer their quality services to our veterans.

“This bill will add more delays to service-connected veteran care by increasing care requirements for complications that may not be service-connected. The bill does not increase community care for veterans or increase beneficial information from community care. It simply expands eligibility without increasing capacity. All veterans should be evaluated by medical professionals to determine their ongoing treatment needs relating to their service. We must do better at serving those who have given their lives for our nation. We cannot worsen the VA backlog and make it even harder for Oklahoma veterans to get the care they need.”

Currently, the Veterans Administration (VA) allows veterans to file a disability compensation claim if they believe their health problems are related to exposure to burn pits during their military service in certain parts of the country, primarily Afghanistan and Iraq. These claims are decided on a case-by-case basis instead of blanket approvals if someone was ever in country. Those that have been directly affected by toxic exposure are going to ultimately be disadvantaged by this bill due to the increase in claims and long wait times to receive care.

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