NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Veterans met with officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss new expansions to VA health coverage. The Pact Act, passed earlier this year, increases coverage for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals from burn pits and other substances such as Agent Orange and radiation.

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There have already been more than 270 claims in the state of New Mexico alone with another 162 claims pending. “So far since we have started processing Pact Act claims, we’ve awarded a little over $700,000 in benefits to veterans in New Mexico,” says Cesar Romero, regional director for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The department has hired 20 new service officers to help veterans obtain records and work their way through the appeals process if they’re denied benefits.