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Senate blocks Pact Act, Central Texas veterans unhappy

After passing in June, Pact Act fails last Wednesday, Texas senators among those against the bill.

FRANKLIN, Texas — The US Senate blocked the PACT Act July 27. According to NPR, the bill would provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure.

It would've covered everything from toxins, from Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and more. 

Central Texas veterans are not pleased that this bill was blocked.

A month ago, the same bill passed the senate with an 84-14 tally. But on Wednesday, 25 Republicans changed their stance on the bill and the bill failed with a 55-42 tally. Among those against the bill, were Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

Sid Hamid, a veteran from Franklin, Texas, served 40 years in the military and was diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis and has gotten 4 heart surgeries since 2018. 

"He's still in the reserves, but he's not covered on Tricare. We don't have the military insurance paying for his care," Sid's wife Melissa said. "So he's had to pay and our families had to use our savings to pay for for heart surgeries since 2018."

Hamid has to jump through hoops to prove his disease is a result of his military service, in addition to other hurdles in receiving health care. 

The Pact Act would put an end to his problems.

With the bill being blocked, Hamid finds himself frustrated, especially knowing his own state senators are against the bill.

"I did this voluntarily, I get it. I take the hit right," Hamid said. "That was stupid of me to do 40 years of service to a country that thinks I'm expendable now and you know, there's other things that are more important."

Kenny Sutton, an Air Force veteran battling cancer, is also frustrated. 

"It hasn't been cheap. And it's been very painful," Sutton said. "I take chemotherapy every single day. And this chemotherapy alone costs $260 per pill every single day."

Sutton also wants the bill to pass to help in paying for his medicine for his cancer treatment. He had hope when the bill passed in June. That hope went away last Wednesday.

"I was incredibly optimistic and excited when the bill passed the Senate the first time," Sutton said. "A minor technicality prevented it from being taken to President Biden's desk to be signed and then what happened last week was just devastating."

Jose Ramos, a veteran and VP of Communications for the Wounded Warrior Project, says this bill would help more than just recent veterans.

"This bill doesn't just address our issues or Kenny's issues. It addresses generational issues," Ramos said. "There's now a bill that'll solve problems for Vietnam era veterans who are still dealing and fighting the VA for their benefits."

Now, veterans around the country wait and hope that the bill can pass the Senate so they can receive the medical benefits they need. Until then, they cherish the moments they have together.

"Sid he was an immigrant by birth and he's an American by choice. And then he joined our military voluntarily and he loves this country," Hamid's wife Melissa said. "This disease is slowly killing him and we've had zero help and zero support. We're not as bad off as other families where their veterans have died already but we really don't know how much time we have left."

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