Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


New VA health care expansion opens coverage to millions more veterans

The San Diego VA Medical Center is pictured in this undated image.
Nicholas McVicker
The San Diego VA Medical Center is pictured in this undated image.

Any veteran exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving at home or abroad will be eligible for Veterans Affairs health care next month, the department announced Monday.

This opens VA health care to millions of veterans in what the department says is one of the "largest-ever" expansions of veteran health care.

Eligible veterans will be able to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits, the department said.


The expansion was mandated by the 2022 PACT Act which called for a phased-in approach over a decade. President Joe Biden announced the accelerated expansion in a Veterans Day speech last year.

Veterans who served in any combat zone since the Vietnam War are eligible, as are any who were exposed to a number of hazards and toxins.

These include air pollutants, chemicals, asbestos, lead, radiation and firefighting foams among many others.

"If you’re a veteran who may have been exposed to toxins or hazards while serving our country, at home or abroad, we want you to come to us for the health care you deserve," VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement Monday.

Veterans can find out more about the PACT Act or apply for health care on the VA's website.