CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The U.S. military is urgently trying to find veterans who are eligible for a new health care program. And its going on a media campaign to get the word out. These are people who fought for this country, and now the Department of Veterans Affairs wants to fight for them.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying to locate all military personnel who were exposed to so-called burn pits. It also wants to locate service men and women who were exposed to Agent Orange, as well as many other toxic substances.

Often times these people develop cancer, or heart and lung problems years later. So far, 500,000 have applied, but’s it’s believed 3.5 million veterans are eligible. There are mental health benefits as well, as some troops may have post-traumatic stress disorder from toxic exposure.

“It’s critical that we get these benefits in their hands. Far too many veterans have passed away to get us to this point. We do not need to lose another individual. We need to get these benefits on their hands right now. We need to get them the care that they need so they can be treated,” said Terrence Hayes, the Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Last year President Biden signed what’s known as the “PACT Act” to expand more health care for exposure to toxins.

But veterans have to apply and sign up for the benefits. You can call toll free: 1-800-698-2411
or apply online. They are urging people to apply by Aug. 10, 2023, to get the full benefits. There is also an additional program for veterans who served post 9/11.