Jessica Mathews /

Veterans in Livingston Country and others across all generations who have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving their country could now be eligible for federal health care and other benefits.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started processing claims under the historic PACT Act at the start of the year.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency says the law is the biggest expansion of VA benefits in 30 years and could benefit nearly a third of U.S. veterans and their families, including many of 11,013 veterans who live in Livingston County.

Officially known as the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, the PACT Act expands eligibility of VA health care and benefits for veterans with toxic exposure from the Vietnam, Gulf War and post-9/11 eras. It is said to cover many existing and new presumptive conditions stemming from Agent Orange, burn pits and other toxic exposures.

The MVAA says encourages veterans to reach out to a Veteran Service Officer to help them file a claim. Locally, that can be done through the Livingston County Veterans Service Office in Howell. That web link is provided.

More information about the PACT Act is available on the VA website or by calling the VA at 1-800-698-2411 (TTY: 711).

Veterans can also contact the MVAA at 1-800-MICH-VET for any other needs, including locating their DD-214 discharge papers, applying for emergency financial assistance, getting connected to employment or education resources, and more. All MVAA services are confidential and complimentary.