Tester, VA undersecretary huddle with Montana veterans about PACT Act

Shereef Elnaha

Julio Cortez, AP

The VA undersecretary for health said Friday the agency was ramping up to reach out to Montana’s veterans, hoping they will use the new PACT Act to help them with benefits they were promised, improving health care in the community and expanding access to mental health care.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal participated in a news conference held by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, in Billings after the two met earlier with Montana veterans.

Tester, who chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, brought Elnahal on his first official trip to Montana to hear from veterans about the challenges in accessing health care and benefits.

They both discussed the PACT Act, which is the largest expansion of veteran health care and benefits in decades. It expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances.

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More than 176,000 veterans have applied for PACT Act-related benefits and more than 503,000 veterans have received the new toxic exposure screenings, with nearly 39%

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