By Orion Donovan Smith | The Spokesman Review
Veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service have a few more days to apply for new benefits after the Department of Veterans Affairs extended a deadline to Monday, following website problems caused by a last-minute surge of applications.
The department made the announcement late Wednesday, which was the original deadline to file a disability claim and receive a full year of retroactive benefits, backdated to when President Joe Biden signed the landmark PACT Act into law in August 2022. Under that law, the VA now treats 23 specific health conditions linked to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances as “presumptive,” removing the burden of proof for veterans who served during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch were among 11 Republicans who voted against the bill in the Senate. In the House, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and North Idaho Rep. Russ Fulcher voted “no” along with 86 other Republicans, while Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside and then-Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of southwest Washington were among 123 GOP lawmakers who helped pass the bill.
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