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Veterans and Bladder Cancer

Veterans are at a higher risk for bladder cancer due to exposure to occupational and environmental conditions and hazardous chemicals during military service. Veterans with service-connected conditions may be eligible for VA disability or compensation. A service-connected condition means an illness or injury that was caused by—or got worse because of—active military service. For example, bladder cancer is now a presumptive condition for veterans who experienced Agent Orange exposure, those veterans can receive the disability benefits they need to cover their medical bills, their lack of income due to cancer symptoms, and other financial strains.

This page provides veterans with information about service-connected conditions covered under the PACT Act,  a new proposed legislation for Military Firefighters and PFAs, and veteran-specific bladder cancer educational resources from BCAN.

What is the PACT Act?

Read the full text of the PACT Act of 2022

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, or PACT Act, is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. It addresses health care, presumption of service-connection, research, resources, and other matters related to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.

The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that the VA assumes (or “presumes”) are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps the VA provide generations of veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

The PACT Act was signed by President Biden on August 10, 2022. 

What does the PACT Act cover?

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for veterans with toxic exposures and veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
  • Adds 20+ more presumptive conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
  • Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

The PACT Act provides eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care, including mental health services and counseling, to veterans who (1) participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (e.g., a qualifying activity that requires a corresponding entry in an exposure tracking record system, such as the Individual Longitudinal Exposure Record); (2) served in specified locations on specified dates; or (3) deployed in support of a specified contingency operation.

This Act extends the eligibility period for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001, and are toxic-exposed veterans, including those who did not enroll to receive VA care during the eligibility period.

Which conditions are covered by the PACT Act?

Burn pit and toxic exposure presumptive conditions Gulf War-related presumptions

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer of any type
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

These illnesses are now presumptive conditions:

  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

What about Vietnam era veterans?

Specific presumed conditions for Agent Orange exposure include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic B-cell leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer)
  • Some soft tissue sarcomas

Military Firefighters and PFAs

BCAN is also lending its support to HR 6946, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives on January 10, 2024, that would direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a compensation fund for military firefighters exposed to PFAs. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAs in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.

The bill states that “not later than two years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall establish a program and fund to be known as the ‘Military Firefighters Compensation Fund.’”

The purpose of the compensation program is to provide for timely, uniform, and adequate compensation to current and former military firefighters and, where applicable, survivors of such employees, suffering from illnesses incurred by such employees in the performance of duty for the Department of Defense and certain of its contractors and subcontractors due to exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs.

The bill also states that a current or former military firefighter, or the survivor of such firefighter if the firefighter is deceased, shall receive compensation for the disability or death of that employee from that employee’s occupational illness.

More information:

Read BCAN patient-advocate Jim Scott’s interview with the American Homefront Project, “More Vietnam vets now qualify for disability benefits, but it may be years before they see the money.”

Bladder Cancer Matters: Podcasts for Veterans



Are you a veteran with bladder cancer?

BCAN advocates for our bladder cancer community at the state and federal level. When issues specifically address the health and well being of our veterans, you can help us by reaching out to your elected officials. Please register to receive future advocacy and information alerts related to veterans with bladder cancer.