Veterans Healthcare - stock photo
By IHPL - March 15, 2024

In recent years, the landscape of healthcare for US veterans has undergone several significant changes, thanks to legislative initiatives aimed at improving and expanding the services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Two crucial pieces of legislation, the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 and the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (MISSION) Act, have played major roles in shaping the future of VA healthcare.

The MISSION Act, implemented in 2018, takes a broad approach to enhancing the VA healthcare system. This legislation focuses on maintaining internal systems within the VA while simultaneously strengthening partnerships with external healthcare networks. One of the key features of the MISSION Act is the Veterans Community Care Program, which enables veterans to seek medical care from private providers if the VA cannot provide timely or convenient services. This flexibility empowers veterans to access a wider range of healthcare options, promoting timely and efficient care delivery. This also allows for veterans in rural communities to receive medical care as VA Medical Centers are located in urban centers.1

The PACT Act represents a landmark effort to address the comprehensive healthcare needs of veterans, particularly those exposed to toxic substances during their service.2 Named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a soldier who faced health challenges stemming from toxic exposures, this legislation aims to fulfill the promise of providing thorough and effective healthcare to those who have sacrificed for our country. This Act was created to address the care gaps that resulted in the denial of disability claims by veterans that were alleged to have been caused by toxic substances.3, 4

As such, the PACT Act significantly expands the VA's ability to diagnose, treat, and support veterans affected by toxic exposures during their military service. It also allocates resources for research, medical advancements, and specialized care, ensuring that veterans receive comprehensive and tailored healthcare.

Additionally, a new bill passed by the Senate in November of 2023, S.106, is currently awaiting action by the House of Representatives. This bill would authorize the VA to provide grants to states to implement programs that improve outreach and assistance to veterans and their families. The goal is to make sure that veterans and their families are aware of the benefits and programs that are available to them. Examples of programs that will be funded are outreach activities to assist in submitting claims and increase the number of county or tribal veterans service officers in the state.5

Together, the PACT Act and the MISSION Act have transformed the landscape of VA healthcare with additional improvements on the horizon with S.106, emphasizing a patient-centered approach that addresses the unique needs of each veteran. The PACT Act has ushered in advancements in toxic exposure research and treatment. At the same time, the MISSION Act has improved overall access to care by expanding the network of healthcare providers available to veterans.

The combined impact of these legislation reflects a commitment to honoring the promises made to our veterans and ensuring that they receive the high-quality, comprehensive healthcare they deserve. As we move forward, continued collaboration between lawmakers, healthcare professionals, and veterans themselves will be essential to building on these successes and further improving the state of VA healthcare in the United States.

Author Bios:

Dr. Margarita Maksimova

Margarita Maksimova, MD

Dr. Maksimova completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of California San Diego where she spent 3 years volunteering at the VA Hospital in La Jolla, California. She then completed her medical education at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. She is currently pursuing training in Preventive Medicine and is passionate about providing excellent care to our nation’s veterans in her future career.


  1. Rural Veterans and Access to Healthcare
  2. Veterans’ health care coverage expanded by the Biden administration
  3. 2023: End-of-year Veteran benefits Update
  4. VA PACT Act Performance Dashboard
  5. S.106 - Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act