CU Anschutz Hosts the First Annual PACT Act Research Symposium for Veteran HealthZachary Noriega, MPA | Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation/CU School of Medicine May 3, 2023
On Wednesday, May 3, 2023, the US Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Health Administration Eastern Colorado Health Care System and the Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention launched the first annual PACT Act Research Symposium for Veteran Health at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The PACT Act is a historic new law that expands VA healthcare and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. The law empowers the VA to provide generations of Veterans — and their survivors — with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve. This law was formally known as the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, with a new bill signed into law in August 2022. This new Act expands and extends eligibility for VA healthcare for Veterans with toxic exposures, and Veterans of the Vietnam era, Gulf War era, and Post-9/11 combat Veterans.
The new PACT Act adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures, adds more presumptive locations for Agent Orange and radiation exposure, provides toxic exposure screenings to every Veteran enrolled in VA healthcare, and helps improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures. The symposium on Wednesday focused on the role that research can play, including improving health outcomes in Veterans for exposures related to deployments, identifying biomarkers of exposure, and developing knowledge that will ensure future generations of Veterans do not have the same issues.
The symposium was emceed by Associate Director of the Military and Veteran Microbiome Consortium for Research and Education (MVM CoRE), and Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado, Andrew Hoisington, PhD, PE, and Director of the MIRECC, and Vice Chair of Research and Professor for the University of Colorado Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Lisa Brenner, PhD, ABPP. Dr. Brenner also delivered the afternoon keynote address on Exposures, Inflammation and Brain Health.The morning kicked off with welcomes and introductions, followed by a session on respiratory health. The afternoon sessions focused on existing data and programs, and mental health. The symposium featured twenty-two speakers from across the VA Health System, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, National Jewish Health, and branches of the US Military. Each session ended with a Q&A session with the speaker experts on that topic. The symposium was well-attended, with over 60 in-person attendees, and over 70 virtual attendees. CU PM&R is excited to be involved in this innovative and important research.
Dr. Andrew Hoisington Introducing Dr. Lisa Brenner at the PACT Act Research Symposium for Veteran Health.