YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown held a roundtable discussion on Wednesday to discuss how a new act can help local veterans.

The PACT Act was passed in August of 2022. It expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins. It can also benefit the loved ones of those that passed away.

Brown met with veterans and their advocates inside the Veterans Resource Center at Youngstown State University on Wednesday morning.

“They never say it’s too expensive to send people to war. They only say it’s too expensive to take care of you when you get home, and I just think that’s almost unAmerican, it’s immoral. It’s our duty and our obligation, regardless of costs,” Sen. Brown said.

The PACT Act was signed by President Joe Biden in August. Brown’s main question for those at the roundtable was how to educate veterans on the new benefits.

“Most people don’t know what the Pact ACT is. Most veterans still don’t know, but I just want to make sure that every veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, if they had any exposure to these football field-sized burn pits, even if they aren’t sick, go sign up,” Brown said.

One of the many veterans exposed to the burn pits is Sgt. Franc Shuster.

“I cough up blood. It’s been going on since late 2009, early 2010, and they don’t seem to have any answers from the medical, as of yet,” he said.

Sgt. Shuster was in the Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan. He hopes this new act will not only help him but other vets exposed to the harmful toxins overseas.

“I think if my generation gets the knowledge we need to get into the VA and start getting these things taken care of, it will open the doctors’ eyes and even the nurse practitioners’ eyes to pay more attention to what’s going on,” he said.

Shuster has a final plea for his fellow veterans.

“Veterans from my generation — global war on terrorism — I just encourage everybody to get out there, get enrolled, and start taking it seriously, especially if you don’t have conditions yet, you don’t know what might come,” he said.

Both Sen. Brown and Sgt. Shuster encourage all vets to look into the PACT Act. Information can be found on the VA’s website.