Senator Sherrod Brown on The PACT Act- VA Benefits

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ZANESVILLE, Ohio- Local Veterans had a chance to learn more about how the passage of the PACT Act will expand VA Benefits to Veterans exposed to burn pits.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown came to town to speak with Veterans at a roundtable about their benefits. 

The roundtable discussion consisted of Veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals. 

The legislation is named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a Central Ohio Veteran who passed away in 2020 at age 39 from lung cancer after exposure to burn pits during a one-year deployment in Iraq in 2006. 

Senator Brown is working with Ohio Veterans and their families to bring attention to the PACT Act so Veterans can get the care they have earned and deserve. 

“I hear some politicians say this costs too much but when it comes to taking care of Veterans whether it’s the community-based clinic in Zanesville or whether it’s the hospitals in Chillicothe or Columbus. If you took an oath to this flag and you served this country, you come home, you develop an illness from your service, we take care of you no matter the cost and that’s who we are as a country. Some may not agree with that but fortunately more of us agree with it than not,” Brown said.   

Andrea Neutzling, Meigs County resident and Army Veteran is one of the many who helped fight to get the PACT Act passed. 

“I got back in 2006 and I started realizing shortly after I got back I had breathing problems. I did a Physical Therapy test with my reserve unit up in Columbus and they thought they were going to have to take me to the emergency room because by the time that I got done with the run at an hour and some odd minutes into the 2 miles, I mean, I ran the whole thing but I was huffing and puffing and barely able to breathe and mind you I ran cross country, I did track, I did sports all through school and so running wasn’t an issue before Iraq,” she said.   

Neutzling has been trying to get this condition figured out for years. The VA denied her claim multiple times. 

“May of 2015 I had my lung biopsy done which gave me my official diagnosis of constrictive bronchiolitis, anthracosilicotic dust deposition, interstitial fibrosis, and a couple other unpronounceable conditions,” Neutzling said.  

She hopes that the bill is implemented correctly and the VA does what they are supposed to do. 

“President Biden on the day he signed the bill these 23 illnesses will immediately qualify and as of the day he signed it we will make sure that happens at all the VA’s in Zanesville and in Columbus and all over and we will add to it as we need to,” Brown said.  

Neutzling wants to get the word out for Veterans in the rural areas of Ohio. She encourages people to go to their county’s Veterans Service Office because they know what to do and how to process everything.