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(Tribune News Service) — Veterans who experienced toxic exposure in the military now have a chance to tell their stories to people who can make a difference.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, announced last week the committee wants veterans to participate in an online survey about the effects of toxic exposure.

“Your responses will help the Committee better understand veterans’ experiences with toxic exposure and how Congress can help ensure these veterans receive the benefits they have earned and deserve,” Takano wrote in a Jan. 11 newsletter.

The survey asks about exposure, health conditions, VA benefits and how Congress can help.

Takano also announced last week a full-committee roundtable titled “The True Cost of our Promise to Toxic-Exposed Veterans” will be held Wednesday and live streamed on YouTube beginning at 2 p.m.

Takano said in a news release the event is an opportunity “to check in with Veterans Service Organizations and advocates on our efforts.”

“We made a promise to service members when we sent them into harm’s way that we would care for them when they came home,” Takano said in the release. “When we go to war we don’t nickel and dime the Department of Defense, and we cannot try to pinch pennies when it comes to covering the care for toxic-exposed veterans. It’s time for us to hold up our end of the deal by passing my bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act.”

Representatives from 11 veterans service organizations have been invited to the roundtable to discuss the Honoring our PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act, which passed out of committee last summer, according to the release.

Takano has said the bill would potentially provide health care for millions of veterans exposed to airborne hazards like burn pits and would establish presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to airborne exposure, among other initiatives.

A bill that would allow people exposed to contaminated drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station in Jacksonville from 1953 to 1987 to sue the government and potentially recover damages for harm caused by the water now has the support of more than a fourth of the House.

More than 125 U.S. representatives have signed on as cosponsors of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 (H.R. 2192), a bill that would essentially remedy a legal hurdle that for years has kept Lejeune water victims from getting their day in court.

The legislation, which has been with a House Judiciary subcommittee since October, would come at a cost of seven to $8 billion dollars, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) told the House Armed Services Committee in September.

In November, Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced a similar bill by the same name in the Senate.

(c)2022 The Daily News (Jacksonville, N.C.)

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(The Gaston Gazette/TNS)

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