Veterans Affairs officials will add male breast cancer, urethral cancer and cancer of the paraurethral glands to the list of illnesses presumed connected to military service in conflicts since 1990, speeding up disability benefits for individuals suffering from the conditions.

The move is the latest in a series of cancers and respiratory conditions added to the department’s list of presumptive illnesses in recent years as part of the PACT Act, sweeping veterans legislation passed two summers ago which has impacted millions of veterans nationwide.

In a statement, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the decision to add the three illnesses are part of a broader push to “provide health care and benefits to as many toxic-exposed veterans as possible” and as fast as possible.

Department officials did not say how many individuals may benefit from the new announcement.

The policy change covers veterans who served in the Gulf War or who deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Uzbekistan after 2001. Veterans who served in other locations in southwest Asia may also be eligible.

Presumptive status allows veterans applying for benefits to skip paperwork establishing their condition as a result of military service. That can cut months of wait times off the benefits process.

Veterans whose claims are approved may also be eligible for benefits dating back to August 2022, when the PACT Act was signed into law. Department officials said they will review all claims of veterans suffering from the three cancers, as well as survivors, from the last two years and automatically grant financial payouts if possible.

Individuals who have not previously filed for the illnesses can start a new claim through the VA website.

The department last month granted its 1 millionth claim related to the PACT Act and has paid out more than $5.7 billion to veterans over that time frame.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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