WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – The Waco Veterans Affairs hosted an event under the PACT Act to help local veterans and survivors enroll in benefits that they have earned.

The PACT Act is a new law that was just passed and signed by President Biden in August of 2022 to expand benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances in Vietnam, the Gulf War and post 9/11 conflicts in the Middle East.

The PACT Act is the largest expansion of veteran healthcare and benefits in decades.

Recognition and benefits for military service is what veterans like William Taylor have wanted for years. After serving in the Vietnam War, he now faces an inoperable mass in his small intestine that is borderline cancerous. Taylor also suffers from lupus and he says both are a direct result of the toxic chemicals sprayed from Agent Orange

“If a veteran asked me about coming up here to get any help and recognition for what they’ve been through. I would say, yes, tremendously, I would really go out of my way to tell them how helpful the VA has been.” -Taylor

Doctors and nurses from the VHA conducted screenings for toxic exposure to document medical evidence.

Doctors like Rima Bishara are spearheading the screenings and her service is deeply personal.

“Who I am and what I do I owe to the American people in a very real way. And this is part of what I do to thank the American people and by extension, the U.S. military.”

Veteran Appreciation is at the heart of the PACT Act. The Veterans Affairs Secretary, Denis McDonough pledged to “fight like hell to give our veterans and their families the health care, respect, and dignity they deserve.”

The Waco VA will be continuing the events just like todays in the next couple of months under the PACT Act.