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1 million vets helped by PACT Act need protection from scammers, Blumenthal says

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
Desiree D'Iorio
/
WSHU
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reached a milestone: One million veterans have signed up for benefits under the PACT Act, the sweeping expansion of benefits for toxic exposure. Lawmakers and advocates are now calling on Congress to protect veterans from scammers. 

Since the PACT Act became law in 2022, veteran advocates say the number of scammers posing as accredited service organizations has increased dramatically.

They find veterans on social media and offer to submit claims on their behalf —for a fee, or a percentage of the money awarded by the VA.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on Congress to pass a bill that would make it easier to criminally penalize bad actors who prey on veterans.

“Some of these predators are saying to veterans, ‘We'll get you approved if you give us 30% of what you receive,'" Blumenthal said at a news conference Tuesday to celebrate the VA processing its one millionth PACT Act claim. "The commissions, the fees — there's no need for them. Veterans can apply themselves.”

K. Robert Lewis of the American Legion in Connecticut said he supports the bill.

“They’re all over Facebook," Lewis said about the so-called "predatory claim sharks." "They’re all over the internet making guarantees. Nobody can guarantee you anything.”

Veterans who were harmed by toxic chemicals can go onlineto sign up for VA health care and other benefits — for free. Accredited service organizations, like the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, can also help file a claim free of charge.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.