ROBSTOWN, Texas — At their facility in Robstown Wednesday, Burn Pits 360 hosted multiple veterans support and resource groups from across the region to help inform local vets on all the benefits that are available to them, especially those that now come with the recent passage of the PACT Act.
Representatives from each group greeted veterans who walked in to discuss anything from Pact Act information specifically, to mental health resources, VA disability compensation claims, burial benefits and much more.
Arthur Fanning was one of those representatives on site Wednesday. The Coastal Bend native is originally from Kingsville, is a 13-year army veteran who served in the Iraq War and now works with the Texas Veterans Network.
"We're all here to help veterans and with the new information out about the PACT Act, that's really good information to get out to the OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) veterans, OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) veterans and some of the Vietnam-era veterans as well," he said. It's good for them to come in here and get that and potentially put in a claim for it and get what they need."
Fanning said veterans of all ages can benefit from resource fairs like this. He says there's been several instances where vets were taken by surprise to learn about the benefits actually available to them.
“A lot of the older era veterans come in and they're just surprised that some of this stuff does actually pertain to them. A lot of this information is stuff that has been expanded to their era," he said. "It’s a relatively new bit of legislation that came out so it’s also good for the younger veterans to come in here and get that information about it and understand a little bit deeper."
For Fanning, helping to promote that awareness is key. He recalls the transition from serving to civilian life, and how it wasn't always so easy or clear.
“When I first came out, I had no idea that any of this was available," he said. "Now that I'm in this industry, it’s good to be able to collaborate with all these other organizations and put that information out there and help my brothers and sisters in arms that might be in my position where I was four-to-five years ago.”
Le Roy Torres founded Burn Pits 360 with his wife Rosie. Both were on hand at Wednesday's event at the facility in Robstown. To finally get the PACT Act passed was a long uphill battle for the couple and their supporters, but now a new journey begins: helping veterans understand and know all the benefits that come with its passage.
“To see it come to fruition is just -- it’s monumental just seeing how far, just reflecting back on our time going to D.C. and personally being affected by toxic exposure and facing the unknown for a long time," she said. “Bringing that awareness, that even if you come back from deployment with illness or injury, that you should not be dismissed. There’s rights that you have."
Both Torres and Fanning said that if there are Coastal Bend veterans who were not able to make Wednesday's event to simply reach out, and they'll work to get you connected to the exact resource you may be needing.
- To reach out to Burn Pits 360, call 1-800-685-3983 or email email@example.com
- To contact the Nueces County Veterans Services, you can call 361-888-0820 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- To reach the Texas Veterans Network, click here.
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