OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last week US Senate Republicans, including both Nebraska senators, blocked a bill that would expand benefits going to veterans exposed to toxins, including exposure to burn pits, while serving.
While both senators, Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, say they are simply fixing technical issues and hope to pass it, one Omaha veteran, Nick Lynch, wasn’t happy.
“I don’t know if there’s a lot I can do just as a citizen but I would like to shine a light on this as much as possible,” said Lynch.
Lynch, who served nine years in the Army Reserves, including time in Kuwait, is doing everything he can to get the word out about the PACT Act, which fell five votes short of advancing in the US Senate last week. “It was really heartbreaking,” said Lynch.
Lynch was heartbroken it didn’t advance because he knows plenty who were exposed to burn pits and Lynch himself was exposed to toxic chemicals, something that is taking time to treat.
“I’m waiting for four months for my second appointment with a specialist,” said Lynch.
The PACT Act would accelerate services for those exposed to toxins, including allowing VA facilities to hire more specialists, and invest in more equipment and cancer research.
Simply put, vets can get better, faster care if it passes, and if not, “It will not only limit the types of care veterans get but it will also extend the time it takes veterans to get care,” said Lynch.
In a statement, Sasse said it’s just the legislative process, saying the Senate needs to fix an accounting issue.
“We expect this will become law, and it’s unfortunate that Democrats are trying to score partisan points,” said Sasse.
Senator Deb Fischer's office said she’s committed to getting this done.
"Some technical issues are being worked through and we look forward to the PACT Act moving across the finish line this week,” said Fischer.
As for Lynch, he’ll believe it passes when he sees it.
“Well, I can’t say I'm terribly confident at this point that the vote will change again.”