Local veterans met at the Erie VA Medical Center on Thursday to learn more about new legislation that addresses the negative health impact of burn pits as well as other toxic substances.  

About a month ago, President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act, a bill that expands health care coverage to veterans.

This afternoon, leaders from the Erie VA Medical Center spent time reviewing the new legislation and answering questions. Veterans also heard from an eligibility specialist.

The director of the Erie VA said all veterans who served and were exposed to toxic burn pits are eligible.

“Those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, Camp Lejeune, etc. are eligible to review that information, talk with our benefits folks in eligibility. Really it provides a breadth of resources for the VA, not only to address new claims, but also research,” said John Gennaro, director, Erie VA Medical Center.

The director of Erie County Veterans Affairs said it’s important to spread awareness about services available to veterans. 

“I think we have close to 18,000 to 20,000 vets in Erie County, and we’re always trying to get this information out to them. It’s important for them to know and get this information. We’re trying to get it out through collaborating with the VA. There’s a lot of information and it could be somewhat confusing,” said Joe Benacci, director, Erie County Veterans Affairs.

The PACT Act is expected to impact thousands of veterans across the commonwealth.