Referring to a nation’s ‘sacred obligation,’ Biden touts PACT Act in Salt Lake City

Aug 10, 2023, 1:12 PM | Updated: 3:43 pm

President Biden addressed a crowd at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Cen...

President Biden addressed a crowd at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City as he marked one year of the PACT Act. (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio)

(Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Standing before a banner reading, “Supporting Our Veterans, PACT Act,” President Joe Biden touted the expanded Act on his visit to Salt Lake City on Thursday afternoon, equating the care of veterans to America’s “sacred obligation.” 

The PACT Act is a year-old law that extends veteran health benefits to those who are exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. The Act also covers certain surviving family members.

VA extends PACT Act application deadline through Monday

Speaking at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Mr. Biden described his 30-year push for a law like the PACT Act and described the nature of burn pits he said he had seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“They’re the size of football fields, up to 100 yards long, 20-yards to 30-yards wide and 8- to 10-feet deep,” he said. “Everything you can imagine is thrown into these pits, to incinerate the waste of war — tires, poisonous chemicals, jet fuel and so much more.

Toxic smoke, thick with poison, spread through the air and into the lungs of those nearby who lived near these facilities. You can smell it in the air. You can sometimes see it.”

(Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio) (Kira Hoffelmeyer, KSL NewsRadio)

“And when these troops came home, many of them the fittest and best-trained warriors we ever sent anywhere, were exposed to these burn pits, they weren’t the same.”

Before the president spoke, veteran Sgt. Erica Smith described her cancer diagnosis and how the PACT Act helped after her kidney was removed.

“A friend from deployment let me know he had cancer in his kidney as well. I filed a claim with the V.A. immediately, thankfully, the PACT Act reduced my paperwork burden and it covered my illness,” she said.

“By the time I had my kidney removed in Oct. 2022, I had already begun receiving increased benefits, benefits that helped me buy my first house.”

“You and your fellow veterans are the heart, soul and very sinew of this generation. Only 1% of you volunteer to protect all of us, that’s what it is,” the president later said of Smith.

Utah governor addresses opportunity to welcome President Biden

Before Mr. Biden spoke, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox welcomed him and paid tribute to Utah’s thousands of military veterans.

“On behalf of the 3.3 million Utahns in our great state, we welcome President Biden to the Beehive State,” he said. “We appreciate this amazing opportunity that we have to collaborate, to push back on policies on which we disagree and to find common ground.” 

Mr. Cox addressed comments shared on social media that questioned whether he would welcome a president from the “other” political side.

“It’s insane that we are having those conversations in our country today. I so appreciate my blue-state partners. We welcome President Biden here. We honor the office of the president and want to find ways to work together. 

Earl Wednesday morning, before the president arrived, the FBI shot and killed a man in Provo who, according to a criminal complaint, had made interstate threats against federal law enforcement as well as against Mr. Biden and other Democratic politicians and leaders.

This is President Biden’s first trip to Utah as president. He will leave Thursday night after a fundraiser in Park City.

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters following a closed-door meeting with fellow Republi...

Clare Foran, Kristin Wilson, Morgan Rimmer and Haley Talbot

Senate unveils stopgap bill in bid to avert shutdown

The Senate has unveiled a bipartisan stopgap bill in a bid to avert a shutdown, but there’s no guarantee it will pass.

6 hours ago

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 12: Taylor Swift (C) accepts the Video of the Year award for "Anti-H...

Mariah Maynes

‘Long Story Short’ Taylor Swift has large impact on voter registration

Taylor Swift made a non-partisan Instagram post encouraging her followers to register to vote. The result was a spike in voter registration.

7 hours ago


Kara Scannell and Lauren del Valle

New York judge finds Donald Trump liable for fraud

A New York judge has found Donald Trump and his adult sons liable for fraud and canceled the Trump Organization’s business certification.

8 hours ago

The OLRGC released an analysis of the expected topics to be discussed during a special session of t...

Mark Jones

Utah’s citizen legislature is an advantage, not a burden

A citizen legislature, claims Sen. Lincoln Fillmore of South Jordan, assures more contact with constituents.

18 hours ago

teacher granite school district pay increase...

Curt Gresseth

Will teacher pay of $60,000 attract educators to Utah?

Is $60,000 the right amount to attract and retain new educators to Utah? A spokesman for a nonprofit group says it is, for now.

22 hours ago

Image of former President Donald Trump walking to speak with reporters before departure from Hartsf...

MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated Press

Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire

Judge Arthur Engoron found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets.

24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Referring to a nation’s ‘sacred obligation,’ Biden touts PACT Act in Salt Lake City