Brunswick County veteran reacts to passage of PACT Act

A Cape Fear woman is sharing her thoughts after the PACT Act passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night.
Lt Col Kelley
Retired Lt. Col. Patricia Kelley reacts to the passage of the PACT Act (Photo C-SPAN/Contributed)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Cape Fear woman is sharing her thoughts after the PACT Act passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night.

Lieutenant Colonel Patricia Kelley served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard for more than 40 years combined. Before retiring in 2013, she served in Iraq in 2008 where she says she was exposed to burn pits. Kelley says she does not personally have medical issues from the exposure but has a friend who does and they had a very difficult time getting help from the VA.

“It’s not just her, it’s all the other veterans that are having problems with cancer and other diseases. Thank God for Jon Stewart who really was a great advocate for veterans,” Kelley said. “I mean, if you send people to war, you need to take care of them when they return.”

Jon Stewart came to Wilmington earlier this year to advocate for the PACT Act. The Senate passed the legislation Tuesday night and it’s now headed for President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Once signed, billions of dollars in new aid will go to military veterans exposed to burn pits and other sources of potentially lethal toxins while deployed abroad.

While Kelley was glad to see it make it through the Senate, she was disappointed to see a nay vote from North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.

“I just think we need to have people in there who are going to be supporting veterans,” Kelley said.

Tillis explained his vote by saying while the bill is well-intentioned, it creates new promises to veterans while breaking existing ones.

“I’m concerned that the VA is simply not prepared to absorb the number of claims and to provide timely care,” Tillis said. “We need to provide the option of community care so if someone does have a toxic exposure and they are covered under this policy, then they can get to the doctor they want as quickly as possible.”


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