Two bipartisan legislation that were recently defeated in the House and Senate would have helped a U.S. service veteran, who said that politicians spit in his face by rejecting both of the measures.
Michael Braman, 45, is one of many veterans who are upset and perplexed after Senate Republicans abruptly killed a widely-supported bill that would have increased medical coverage for millions of former service members who were exposed to toxic burn pits. Michael Braman is one of many veterans who are angry and confused.
Most supporters of the PACT Act, also known as the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, anticipated that the House-passed legislation would easily make it to the president’s desk for signature.
However, 41 Senate Republicans—including 25 who had previously backed the bill—blocked its approval on Wednesday night in a procedural vote.
According to Braman, they are cruelly playing games with our veterans and their families. By reversing this bill, our nation’s authorities insulted us.
Michael Braman in Afghanistan during a tour; his daughter gives him a VFW state commander cap.
Thanks to Michael Braman
The action was taken two weeks after a House committee rejected the Maj. Richard Star proposal, which would have allowed combat veterans with less than 20 years of active duty who are medically retired or severely disabled to receive both retirement and disability payments.
I’m enraged about this, said Braman, who depends on the success of both initiatives.
Braman claimed to have been a standout athlete in high school and never experienced respiratory issues. But after being deployed to Afghanistan, where he claimed to have spent a lot of time near open-air burn pits, he was given an asthma diagnosis.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, burn pits were a typical sight at American military installations. Jet fuel was frequently used to ignite hazardous objects, such as electronics, automobiles, and human waste, which sent toxic gases and toxins into the atmosphere.
No matter where you were, you would experience the smoke, according to the wind, Braman stated.
Braman claimed that the military forced him to medically retire in 2014 due to a disability mostly brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Army and Army National Guard for 19 years and 5 months.
Braman and approximately 50,000 other combat-disabled veterans would be entitled to hundreds, if not thousands, more in benefits each month under the Maj. Richard Star amendment.
Braman claimed that when the House Rules Committee failed to forward that amendment two weeks ago, he felt abandoned by the country he represented.
The PACT Act, which would have given more than 3.5 million post-9/11 combat veterans who were exposed to poisons while serving in the military access to Veterans Affairs health treatment, gave him reason for optimism at the time.
At least I believed we would get one of them if not both. I had complete confidence that we would succeed. Braman claimed that everything was set.
The PACT Act had overwhelmingly positive support in both parliamentary chambers up until Wednesday. The initial measure was passed by the Senate 84–14 in June. It was moved to the House, where it passed with 342-88 minor amendments.
The law had not changed much when it was brought back to the Senate, but the opinions and votes of 25 senators had.
A spokesperson for Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, described the measure’s budgetary maneuver as allowing for $400 billion in spending over the next ten years that is unrelated to veterans. Some lawmakers told NBC News on Friday that they were unwilling to vote to end debate for the version of the bill that reached the Senate floor on Wednesday.
The action, in the opinion of several of their Democratic colleagues, was political.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, stated in remarks on the Senate floor about his colleagues’ change of heart: “Republicans are upset because Democrats are on the cusp of passing climate change legislation and have opted to take their fury out on vulnerable veterans.”
Both veterans and those who support them concur.
Braman remarked, “I’m so sick of the politics around veteran issues. It is utterly repulsive.
The PACT Act could be put to another vote in the Senate as soon as Monday. We are going to offer our Republican friends another chance to vote on this Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in a conversation with reporters on Thursday.
Another combat-disabled veteran who would gain from both legislation, Steven London, 37, is hopeful that the PACT Act will be passed this year.
During his nearly ten years of active duty in the Army, the Purple Heart recipient spent five of those years in Afghanistan, where he claimed burn pits were “a routine everyday part of life.”
In 2021, he received an asthma diagnosis.
Although it “certainly seems like a setback,” London said he wants to maintain his positive attitude.