Lifesaving care for veterans exposed to toxins now a law

CPA getting $3.1M grant for Saipan Harbor navigational improvements

Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan

President Joseph Biden Jr. signed into law Wednesday a bill that would secure access to lifesaving care for 3.5 million veterans, including those in the Marianas, who’ve been exposed to deadly toxins in the line of duty.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP) also disclosed in his e-kilili newsletter over the weekend that the Commonwealth Ports Authority is receiving $3.1 million grant funding that will be used to study navigational improvements for two potential future projects in the Saipan Harbor, while the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. was awarded $1.2 million in Community Project Funding grant for the modernization of its laboratories.

Sablan said that Biden signed into law the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, in which he was an original co-sponsor and fought alongside the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and veteran service organizations for the passage of this legislation, so veterans in the CNMI and elsewhere who’ve been exposed to toxins while in service can receive the care they deserve.

He said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has begun honoring claims reflecting the 23 new conditions and cancers included in the legislation to qualify for presumptive eligibility for VA benefits.

The delegate said this week’s enactment of the PACT Act expanded VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pit and other toxic substances.

He said the bill’s passage also ensures that veterans who were once denied access to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation will be contacted by the Department of Veterans Affairs about new eligibility.

For Saipan port improvements, Sablan said the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday that CPA is receiving $3,135,000 in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity, or RAISE, grant funding.He said the first prospective project is to extend Charlie Dock.

The delegate said second prospective project is to dredge the entrance channel, turning basin, north and south seaplane ramps, and Echo Cock areas to allow larger vessels to dock at the port, including cruise ships, ferries, and bulk vessels.

Sablan said the projects aim to address safety challenges, expand port capacity, and boost economic competitiveness.

For the CHCC laboratory improvements, the delegate said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday the awarding of $1.2 million to CHCC.

With the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sablan said the need for updated lab equipment will help the Commonwealth be better prepared for infectious diseases in the future.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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