WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a group of bipartisan senators to reintroduce the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act, legislation that fundamentally reforms and improves how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Joining Senators Tillis and Hassan are U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The TEAM Act has been endorsed by the TEAM Coalition, America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), The Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA), the American Legion, Cease Fire Campaign, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. (GSW), Green Beret Foundation, HunterSeven Foundation, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The Independence Fund, Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc. (MVA), National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO), New Hampshire Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA), Reserve Organization of America (ROA), Stronghold Freedom Foundation, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), TREA: The Enlisted Association, United Soldiers and Sailors of America (USASOA), Veterans Prostate Cancer Awareness, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW),VetsFirst – United Spinal Association, Veteran Families for Education and Awareness (VFEA), Veteran Warriors, and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
The Toxic Exposures in The American Military (TEAM) Coalition: “After nearly two years of tireless work by our Coalition, we are pleased to see The TEAM Act re-introduced in the 117th Congress. We would like to thank Senator Tillis and Senator Hassan for their leadership on this critical issue, and urge the Senate to pass this legislation without delay.”
The Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA): "The AFSA would like to extend its sincerest gratitude to Senators Tillis and Hassan for introducing the TEAM Act. The reforms established in this legislation serve as a significant leap forward towards ensuring the provision of quality health care to all veterans exposed to toxic substances during their time of service. The AFSA is proud to support this bill, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with you and other members of Congress to secure its expeditious codification in public law."
The American Legion: “We look forward to Congress reintroducing and passing the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act, which would improve how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits in a variety of ways. This includes requiring VA to respond to new scientific evidence regarding diseases associated with toxic exposure within an established timeframe; ensures VA enters into agreements with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to conduct scientific studies on toxic exposures; and provides testing through VA for eligible veterans exposed to toxic substances.”
Cease Fire Campaign: “Munitions subjected to open burning here in the U.S. and overseas may contain PFAS. PFAS are not destroyed in an open fire and are therefore dispersed to the air and the surrounding environment where they accumulate in people and at higher temperatures, burning may generate poisonous hydrogen fluoride gas.”
Disabled American Veterans (DAV): “DAV supports the Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act as it would ensure that veterans exposed to toxic substances during military service, including those who served near open air burn pits, will have access to critical VA health care and benefits. The men and women with illnesses due to these exposures cannot afford to wait! We thank Senator Tillis and Senator Hassan for their efforts to keep the promise to those who served.”
Fleet Reserve Association (FRA): “As one of the leading supporters of the Agent Orange Blue Water Navy bill that was enacted in the last session of Congress, FRA is grateful that Agent Orange legislation helped veterans that served during Vietnam conflict and now Congress needs to protect those veterans who more recently served or are currently serving. That is why FRA is supporting this critical legislation to ensure that no veteran who had exposure to burn pits or other environmental toxins goes without access to VA health care benefits. We look forward to passing this bill this year.”
GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer: “Improving care and outcomes for our military, who have a higher risk of lung cancer, has long been our priority. We are proud to support this legislation and stand alongside those who are committed to improving health outcomes for our military men and women who have served our country.”
Green Beret Foundation: "Our Nation's Veterans suffering from illnesses and conditions due to being exposed to toxic chemicals, improvised explosive devices, and burn pits must be ensured that they will receive the proper lifesaving care and benefits from Veterans Affairs. The issue of toxic exposures and its effects is critical and hits close to home for the U.S. Army Special Forces community. The Green Beret Foundation expresses its support for the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act and thanks Senator Tom Tillis for his leadership and commitment to this critical issue."
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA): "IAVA applauds the work of Sens. Tillis and Hassan in working hard to address this signature health issue for America's post-9/11 veterans. The TEAM Coalition has been working hard to ensure that military toxic exposures like burn pits are not something we will be fighting to address a generation from now and IAVA appreciates that they have our backs."
The Independence Fund: “For the catastrophically disabled veterans The Independence Fund serves, toxic exposure maladies complicate an already complex mix of disabilities, injuries, and wounds that tax the best medical care, but without the certainty of knowing the VA considers those exposure maladies service-connected. Senator Tillis’ and Hassan’s TEAM Act will move the needle substantially in the veteran’s favor and remove the worry for those who already sacrificed so much in service to their country. The Independence Fund salutes its home State North Carolina Senator, Thom Tillis, for working in partnership with Senator Hassan to bring this crucial legislation forward now. We look forward to working with all the sponsors to make this bill law.”
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA): “The TEAM Act provides bold and necessary steps forward for how our nation treats toxic exposure for servicemembers who answered our nation’s call. The comprehensive approach taken by Senators Tillis and Hassan will benefit servicemembers, veterans, families, survivors, and caregivers for years to come. MOAA supports swift passage of the TEAM Act.”
National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP): “The TEAM Act is a major step forward in making sure our servicemembers who are suffering from toxic exposure get the critical care they need due to the illnesses they contracted as a result of their military service. We appreciate Sen. Tillis' efforts to relaunch this legislation and Sen. Hassan's support to cosponsor it.”
Stronghold Freedom Foundation: "The Stronghold Freedom Foundation is pleased to endorse the TEAM Act of 2021. This law will provide some respite for Karshi-Khanabad Airbase (K2) veterans and a path towards recognition. K2 was the first of many bases established in support of the Global War on Terror. K2 veterans were the first exposed to toxins, radiation, and burn pits. The TEAM Act seeks to help K2 veterans and their families for the first time. The SFF will work with the coalition and our partners in the House and Senate to ensure all survivors of toxic exposure are cared for and recognized."
TREA: The Enlisted Association: "Servicemembers and veterans who are suffering from Toxic Exposure related illnesses are in desperate need for quality care" said The Enlisted Association's (TREA) National President, Justin Jump. "We would like to thank Senator Tillis, Senator Hassan, and their staff for their leadership on this time sensitive issue, and strongly urge Congress to pass the TEAM Act immediately."
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS): “As the leading national nonprofit organization caring for all those grieving the death of a military loved one and as staunch advocates for the families of those who died as a result of illnesses connected to toxic exposure while serving in the military, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is grateful to Senator Tillis and Senator Hassan for reintroducing the TEAM Act. This landmark legislation is an important step forward to providing critical health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and honors our nation’s commitment to their families, caregivers and survivors.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW): "During the last century, veterans returned home from war with an array of unexplained health conditions and illnesses associated with the toxic exposures and environmental hazards they encountered in service. Today is no different, and toxic exposure has become synonymous with military service. The Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act aligns with the VFW's priorities to establish a comprehensive framework to address past, present, and future toxic exposures in the military at locations both domestic and abroad. The VFW thanks Senators Tillis and Hassan for introducing this important legislation to provide America's veterans with the care and benefits they need."
Veterans Prostate Cancer Awareness: “Veterans Prostate Cancer Awareness is grateful for Senator Tillis’ support and dedication to Veterans impacted by a number of Toxic Exposure events. While Prostate Cancer continues to be the number one diagnosed cancer in the VHA system, there are several illnesses’ being discovered because of our Nations Hero’s exposure to Toxic Materials while in the service to their country. We wholeheartedly support the proposed Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act Legislation and sincerely thank Senator Tillis for his continued support of Veterans.”
Veteran Warriors: "Veteran Warriors supports this Bill as it is a step forward to give those affected by toxic exposures during military service more access to benefits and services that they have earned."
VetsFirst, United Spinal Association: "VetsFirst is an integral member of the Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) Coalition, a non-partisan consortium of more than 30 veterans and military service organizations and stakeholders, strongly supports the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act. VetsFirst commends Senators Thom Tillis (NC) and Maggie Hassan (NH) for thier leadership and introduction of the bipartisan bill. The bill will expand health care eligibility and create a framework for establishing presumptive service connection for all military toxic exposures. Now is the time for Congress to act so that veterans receive the health care and benefits they have earned. The TEAM Act is critical and will reform the way the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) evaluates and provides care for veterans with a presumptive service connection to toxic exposures. VetsFirst looks forward to working with both Senators and others to secure swift passage before the end of 2021.”
Wounded Warrior Project (WWP): “Wounded Warrior Project believes that veterans of all eras who suffered toxic exposures deserve access to lifesaving health care and a system that requires VA to respond to scientific data in a timely, transparent manner. This forward-thinking legislation would set those standards for all military toxic exposures, now and in the future. We are proud to endorse the TEAM Act and stand alongside Senator Tillis and Senator Hassan in their commitment to this urgent issue.”