The Williamson County Veteran Services Office will host a town hall July 7 to inform veterans about a new federal law that could expand their veterans affairs disability and health care benefits.

The veterans town hall will include a briefing from Assistant Veteran Services Officer Beatriz Bocanegra on the necessary qualifications, eligibility and steps to take to file a claim under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act.

The event will take place from 2-5 p.m. at 100 Wilco Way, Room 266, Georgetown.

Zooming in

The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 provides VA benefits coverage for more than 20 new presumptive conditions linked to toxic substance exposure, such as Agent Orange and burn pits, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Eligibility for VA benefits such as disability compensation usually require a veteran to prove their disability is connected to their military service; however, presumptive conditions automatically assume this, according to the department. Veterans only have to meet the presumption's service requirements.

Under the law, a Gulf War or post-9/11 veteran could receive VA health care coverage and disability compensation for certain cancers under the presumption that the disease was caused by toxic exposure during time served.

The law also mandates that VA health care recipients be screened for toxic exposure at least once every five years.

What else?

Juan Amaya, Williamson County Veteran Services director, will discuss recent and upcoming changes to the office, and provide an overview of the services the office currently provides and updates on upcoming events, such as a Veterans Day event hosted by the office Nov. 4, said Yvonne Ramirez, the county's communications specialist.

Recent changes include:
  • New Veteran Services officers Beatriz Bocanegra and Jonathan Williams and new grant coordinator Brenda Williams
  • A free ride-share program to take veterans to VA appointments
  • The Veteran Services’ Round Rock office at 1801 E. Old Settlers Blvd., which is expected to be completed in around 60 days
  • A new Texas Veterans Commission grant that gives emergency financial assistance to veterans with an honorable discharge
Amaya will also discuss his future vision for the department, Ramirez said.

“Juan Amaya's vision for the department includes continuing to see it grow and to build the office's reputation as a place veterans trust,” Ramirez said. “The Williamson County Veteran Services Office strives to provide the best service to veterans who are a priority to Williamson County leadership.”

By the numbers

Williamson County had around 38,000 veterans living in the county in 2021, according to the U.S. Census. The county’s veteran population was the 10th largest of any county in the state in 2019, according to the Texas Workforce Investment Council.