Veterans' advocates are pushing to have several blood cancers added to the list of conditions considered to be service-connected under the PACT Act, a move that would make some Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans eligible for expedited health care and benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a scientific review to decide whether acute leukemias, chronic leukemias and multiple myeloma should be covered by the PACT Act, the landmark legislation passed last year that broadened benefit eligibility for veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and were exposed to burn pits or other battlefield pollutants.
Multiple myeloma already is considered a presumptive condition under the legislation when it originates in the head or neck. Lymphoma, which forms in the lymph system, is covered but leukemias are not, even though they are similar to lymphoma.
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In public comment conducted as part of the VA's review, veterans' advocates supported inclusion of these illnesses as service-connected conditions, saying they have seen former service members who are afflicted and now dying.
According to the HunterSeven Foundation, an organization that helps personnel with exposure-related illnesses and supports research on military-associated health conditions, of the 1,239 cancer deaths among the veterans the group…