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VA to host PACT Act events in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico this summer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2024

VA to host PACT Act events in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico this summer to encourage Veterans and survivors to apply for health care and benefits
These events are a part of the PACT Act outreach campaign — the largest outreach campaign in VA history — which has driven historic applications for VA health care and benefits

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will host the second annual PACT Act Summer VetFest — featuring more than 100 Summer VetFest events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — to encourage Veterans and survivors to apply for the health care and benefits they have earned under the PACT Act. These events will take place from June through August of this year.

These events will be casual, family-friendly gatherings featuring Veterans and their families, Veteran advocates, and the VA health care and benefits professionals who serve them. At the events, VA staff will be ready to help Veterans apply for PACT Act-related benefits (or complete a previous intent to file), enroll in VA health care, get screened for toxic exposures, and more.

The VetFest is just one component of VA and the entire Biden-Harris administration’s natonwide PACT Act Veteran outreach campaign, which is the largest coordinated outreach campaign in VA history. As a result of this effort, Veterans are applying for VA health care and benefits in historic numbers. More than 1 million PACT Act-related claims have been granted under the law and more than 400,000 Veterans enrolled in VA health care — a 30% increase over the previous year. VA encourages all eligible Veterans and survivors to file a benefits claim or apply for VA health care today.

“This summer, we’re inviting Veterans and their families to join us at more than 100 Summer VetFest events across the country to learn what VA can do for them,” said, VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Our goal is to bring VA to Veterans – making it as easy as possible for them to sign up for health care and benefits – and that’s what these events are designed to do. There are millions of Veterans and survivors across America who are eligible for VA services under the PACT Act, and we will not rest until every one of them gets what they’ve earned.”

In addition to hosting more than 2,600 events since the passage of the PACT Act, VA has also sent millions of leters and emails, launched a nationwide advertising campaign, and enacted the first-ever text messaging campaign to reach eligible Veterans. Key results from the ongoing campaign include:

• More Veterans are applying for benefits than ever before: Veterans submited 2,433,729 claims applications in 2023 — an all-time record by more than 39%. Thus far this year, Veterans have submited more claims than last year at this time.
• Veterans submited record “intents to file” in 2023: Veterans submited 2,299,815 intents-to-file in 2023 — an all-time record and 62% more than in 2022. VA is currently reaching out to these Veterans to encourage them to finish their benefits claims before their intents-to-file expire.
• Veterans are enrolling in VA health care at the fastest rate since 2016: As noted above, more than 400,000 Veterans enrolled in VA health care over the past 365 days — a 30% increase over the previous year. This is the highest enrollment rate since 2016.

These numbers are only expected to grow due to VA’s recent expansion of PACT Act health care eligibility, which began on March 5, 2024. Under this new authority, all Veterans who meet the basic service and discharge requirements and were exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving in the military — at home or abroad — are eligible to enroll directly in VA health care, years earlier than called for by the PACT Act. This means that all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11 are eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits.

Veterans and survivors can apply or learn more about the PACT Act by visiting VA.gov/PACT, by calling 1-800-MYVA411, or by atending an upcoming outreach event. For a full list of upcoming Summer VetFest events, please visit this link.

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