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DES MOINES, Iowa – The head of the nation’s Department of Veteran Affairs was in Des Moines Tuesday to encourage veterans to sign up for some of the new benefits available to them.

The PACT Act allows veterans to seek treatment if they were exposed to toxic chemicals or burn pits during their service. Secretary Denis McDonough toured the VA in Des Moines Tuesday afternoon. Afterward, he said these new benefits will help veterans from several generations of service.

“Please file your claims. This is importantly for post 9-11 vets, but not just for post 9-11 vets. It’s also for Persian Gulf War vets going back to ’91. It’s also for Vietnam-era vets who were exposed to Agent Orange and are now suffering from hypertension,” said McDonough.

Military personnel serving overseas used to burn hazardous waste containing rubber and plastic from military bases. The VA estimates that 3.5 million soldiers could have been exposed to the toxic fumes from those burn pits.