News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Veterans eligible for free toxin screening

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers and clinics across the country now offer enrolled veterans a new toxic exposure screening. 

These screenings are a key part of the PACT Act, a new law that empowers VA to deliver care and benefits to millions of toxic exposed veterans and their survivors. 

The screening takes around 5 to 10 minutes and begins by asking veterans if they believe they experienced any toxic exposures while serving in the armed forces. 

Veterans who answer “yes” are then asked about specific exposures, including open burn pits/airborne hazards, Gulf War-related exposures, Agent Orange, radiation, Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure and other exposures.

Veterans enrolled in VA health care will be offered an initial toxic exposure screening then follow-up screenings at least once every five years.

“These screenings are an important step toward making sure that all toxic exposed Veterans get the care and benefits they deserve,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “At the end of the day, these screenings will improve health outcomes for Veterans — and there’s nothing more important than that.”

After completion of the screening, the VA will connect veterans who are concerned about toxic exposures to information about benefits, registry exams and clinical resources. 

Medical concerns will continue to be addressed through existing care teams or other facility resources as appropriate.

Veterans can ask about receiving the screening at their next VA primary care provider appointment. 

If veterans are not assigned to a primary care team or wish to be screened sooner than their next appointment, they can contact their local facility and ask to be screened by the toxic exposure screening navigator.

On Sept. 6, the VA began a pilot of this program – screening 13,380 veterans across 12 medical centers over a two-week period and finding a 37.4 percent concern of exposure among those veterans. 

The VA encourages veterans not currently enrolled in VA health care to apply now. 

Learn more at https://www.va.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduction.

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