Department of Florida

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September 2022

I’m happy to announce that by the time this article is published, there will have opened two new Veterans Nursing facilities, one in Port St. Lucie and the other in Orlando. These new facilities will not only give Florida a total of nine skilled facilities of this type, the most in any other state in our great nation but further demonstrates that we take care of our fellow veterans.

As we continue to learn of the far-reaching effects of the COVID pandemic, the VA has implemented a program to assist veterans who lost jobs due to the pandemic. The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program offers veterans between the ages of 22 and 66 years of age education and training for a variety of high demand jobs in order that they can get back to work. If any veterans fall into this category, enrollment is open only until December 11, 2022.

Since August brought us a monumental piece of legislation, The PACT Act, having been signed into law I’d like to highlight just some of its elements since it’s estimated that this law potentially affects the lives of approximately 3.5 million veterans: It is often referred to as Burn Pit Exposure legislation, however the law goes beyond just that.

For example, it adds two additional presumptive conditions due to Agent Orange exposure..hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy.

These will directly affect our Viet Nam veterans. In connection with that, new presumptive locations have been added..Any U.S or Royal Thai military base in Thailand between Jan 9, 1962 and June 30, 1976. Also Laos, between 1965-1969; Guam or American Samoa or the territorial waters off their coasts from 1962-1980.

Certain cancers have also been included as being presumptive; Brain Cancer; Gastrointestinal cancer of any type; Glioblastoma, Kidney cancer and Lymphatic cancer of any type; Melanoma; Neck and/or Pancreatic cancer; Reproductive cancer of any type and Respiratory cancer of any type.

In addition to the above there are now 12 newly announced illnesses that are classified as presumptive. This law’s passages also addresses the needs of veterans who served in over 20 Middle Eastern countries from 1990 to after 2001. As you see, the PACT Act is far reaching and as everyone agrees, long overdue.

The VA has acknowledged that it is continuing to prepare to process claims related to this law. I encourage any veterans who have been affected to speak with your local Post Service Officer, FDVA or County Service Officer to begin the filing process. VA will be accepting claims however won’t begin processing them until January 2023.

In closing, by the time this is published I will have once again attended The American Legion’s National Convention and look forward to being able to share what I learn there.

Alan Cohen
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Chair